“More rock, less talk,” said Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew in the midst of an epic three-hour set.
Broken Social Scene is indie rock’s equivalent to the Yardbirds—a supergroup with interchangeable parts. Where the pioneering Yardbirds shifted between guitarists, from Eric Clapton to Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, Broken Social Scene shuffles between singers. Whether it’s Leslie Feist, Amy Millan of Stars, or Emily Haines of Metric, the band is like a collective that fluctuates with the availability of their Canadian brethren. When you show up at a concert, you never know what to expect. And last night was no exception.
After spitting out the live-favorite “KC Accidental” in furious fashion, the guitar-heavy group welcomed Elizabeth Powell on stage. She’s the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the Montreal-based band Land of Talk, the evening’s opening act. On the fast “7/4 (Shoreline),” she held her own in harmonies alongside Drew, perfectly mimicking the tenor of past performers while hinting at her own musical chops. However, during the band staple, “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl,” it was apparent that Powell was uncomfortable leading the seven-piece group. She often looked to bandmates for what seemed like help or guidance, never taking control of a song that was left lingering in the air.
But the core of the band never slowed. The nimble-fingered Andrew Whiteman, also of the Apostle of Hustle, happily danced along his guitar like an eccentric Eddie Van Halen. Bassist Brendan Canning jumped along in celebration and even showed the crowd a few of his best exclamatory front kicks. Whether a song sounded great or just good, people didn’t seem to care: The packed theater ate up every moment of silence with uproarious applause.
And fans were rewarded: During the encore break, Drew and Canning stayed on stage to pass out pumpkin pie to the front row.