The very indecisive weather on May 21st made it rather difficult to choose the right outfit for a night at the Corona Theater. Warm clothes were the wisest choice, however, unless you were willing to pay for coat check, you were pretty much forced to either hug your jacket for four and a half hours or endure the heat of the venue if you weren’t one of the lucky few to find a safe space for your coat and umbrella.
It got hot, and if you don’t believe in the emission of body heat, you are a fool, you’re not a scientist, and you have also maybe not spent much time in crowded spaces. Well, the Corona Theater on Tuesday night where people packed in to see Broken Social Scene (BSS) would have taught ya’.
Although BSS were scheduled to hit the stage at 9:00PM, those who showed up earlier and caught The Besnard Lakes’ opening act were lucky they did.
Creating an ambient ambiance, the Montreal indie prog rock band The Besnard Lakes set the mood for what would be a very winsome and groovy evening. Staying warm throughout the set, the lighting created a soothing atmosphere that complemented the very tranquilizing music that the Lakes poured off the stage. It wasn’t entirely off-putting for the vocals of their type of serene music to have been a touch low and muffled, however, when the energy began to rise and strengthen as their progressive rock set evolved, it would have been even more impacting had the vocals been a bit more clear and turned up. Vocal sharing was a very prevalent occurrence throughout the evening, and The Besnard Lakes’ introduced that idea as the lead vocals were split up between frontman and guitarist Jace Lasek, bassist Olga Goreas, and the very talented multi-instrumentalist keyboard player Sheenah Ko. I always appreciate a prog-rock band that presents a progressive set as opposed to simply performing individual progressive songs. Starting off their performance rather tranquil, their sound became more powerful as the distortion kicked in, and the female vocalists–not the male–initiated the aggressive vocals–way to squash the gender roles, homies.
There was nothing broken about their social scene. Unless I have completely misinterpreted their band name, the Broken Social Scene performance was probably the most wholesome and community-oriented act that I’ve ever seen that wasn’t on the PBS Kids television network or The Wiggles. With heartfelt speeches, hugs on stage and an incredibly strong sense of familial love emanating from the stage, BSS exuded cordiality. Like a clown car unloading, the members just kept piling out from behind the curtains. I believe I counted eight members; however, their gang is known to have up to nineteen like some kind of orchestra. Their orchestrating ways were nevertheless quite prominent as three of the members including guitarist Charles Spearin busted out the brass instruments: trombone, saxophone and trumpet. This was just one example of the BSS bros and babes swapping instruments. I think the only member that didn’t change instruments during their set was drummer Justin Peroff.
Opening up with “Remember Me Young” as a tribute to their fallen friend Dave, the band had an absolute arsenal of songs, playing for over two hours and exclaiming “we’ll only stop playing when they kick us off.” They played their hearts out for us, themselves and Dave. “Boyfriends,” “Stay Happy,” and “All I Want” were all part of the extensive set list that evidently kept the crowd engaged. Frontman Kevin Drew had drawn them in with his charismatically caring character, shaking and grabbing audience hands while he sang and greeted people at the same time. If his wholesome high-fives weren’t enough physical contact for the crowd, bass player Brendan Canning’s crowd-surfing definitely made for a magic touch.
Keeping the good vibes going strong, the band did not despair when incessant feedback continued to pierce through the speakers. Stopping the show to address the situation, BSS were exceptionally accommodating to the crowd, ensuring that their fans had a stellar experience. Although it’s not always the most pleasant sound, the feedback added to the Broken Social Scene’s psychedelic and ambient sounds, somewhat blending in with the trippy vibes. At least The Besnard Lakes’ Sheenah Ko, who was standing next to me in the crowd whom I was too shy to talk and complement on her music skills, exclaimed that the feedback added to the experience.
Watching these musicians not only perform their music wholeheartedly but connect amongst each other on a personal level made not only for an impressive performance, but an endearing one as well. As phenomenal vocalist Amy Milan hugged phenomenal vocalist Ariel Engel, I knew that the band`s social scene was in fact a Not Broken Social Scene.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Marc-Antoine Morin
*edited by Danielle Kenedy