Last Night: Broken Social Scene at Club Cinema

Categories: Concert Review

Broken Social Scene with Land of Talk
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Club Cinema, Pompano Beach

Canadian experimental/indie-rock supergroup Broken Social Scene descended on South Florida last night like a swarm of indie bees, and buzzed up a two-hour storm for jubilant fans at a packed Club Cinema in Pompano, on the last night of their U.S. tour.  

Land of Talk, also from Canada, opened the show with an enjoyable yet forgettable set, featuring talented young Montreal-based vocalist and guitarist Elizabeth Powell (who also backed up BSS on various numbers). Though far from the masterful Leslie Feist, who records and sometimes performs the female vocals on most BSS tunes, Powell gave a respectable go at it.
Broken Social Scene, with its current roster of nineteen musicians, appears to indeed be a social scene in and of itself -- an eclectic conglomeration of avant garde abstractionists and straight ahead rockers, that clearly functions better broken than most do fixed.  

Excellent sound quality at this venue, and impressive lighting, though not typical at your average indie show, definitely helped make this one memorable. Mixing an act with such complex instrumentation is never an easy feat, so kudos to the sound people for nailing it.

Front man and founder Kevin Drew, doing a good impression of the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, with his wild hair and gray dress vest; and a good impression of Bono (ouch) with his vocals at times, kept the crowd going strong. Between songs ranging from dreamy and mellow ballads like "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" to more upbeat and catchy tunes like the off-meter "7/4 (Shoreline)," Drew engaged the audience with optimistic musings about changes in the U.S. administration, giving his and Canada's approval to Florida for voting Obama.

Toronto-based BSS consists of a traditional rock core of drums, bass, guitar and moog/keyboard, supplemented by an array of support instrumentation ranging from horns and woodwinds to violins and miscellaneous percussion -- creating a full, grand sound verging on ethereal at times. The band's lineup changes from night to night depending on the availability of its members who all have side projects of their own. This revolving door effect offers audiences in different cities the benefit of variety, if not consistency, but either way the crowd is guaranteed to be pleased, as it clearly was last night.

Variety and versatility are probably the hallmark characteristics of these musicians, who artfully and energetically engaged the audience right up to the club's midnight curfew, opting to save time and skip formalities by playing their encore performance before leaving the stage, instead of waiting through precious minutes of applause. A thirty-dollar indie-rock show ticket sounds steep, but then Broken Social Scene is not your average indie-rock band, as they proved so well last night. Money well spent.

-- Ben Thacker

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