Tag Archives: Broken Social Scene


Kevin Drew Proves He’s Still Got It at The Bowery Ballroom

April 29th, 2014

Kevin Drew – The Bowery Ballroom – April 28, 2014

It had been a couple years, so I’d kind of forgotten what kind of live presence Kevin Drew has. But last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the Broken Social Scene frontman quickly reminded everyone of the captivating live show he can put on, colluding with the giddy crowd along the way. He opened with “Mexican Aftershow Party” playing piano, his strong voice as distinctive as ever, with the band surrounding his vocals with electronic beeps and an ethereal hum. But for much of the show, Drew played acoustic guitar, giving the songs off his new album, Darlings, a stripped-naked feel. But it was his band—an excellent ensemble in the spirit of BSS, led by Charles Spearin on bass—that provided the shimmering, flowing and beautiful music for Drew to swim around in. And along with his lyrics and personality, the effect was like skinny-dipping in an ocean of sound: half profound, half profane.

The show hit on most of the new material with many highlights along the way. As the set continued, Drew began to open up with anecdotes and asides, drawing in the audience. “Good Sex” was preceded by a short bit about his dad, who’s his business manager, asking whether Drew can sing a “love song that’s not about semen,” leading him to singing, “I fucking love you” before Spearin charged in with some curvaceous boogie bass bombs. Yes, there were plenty of NSFW moments in Drew’s show, but it made it all seem more real and, ironically, more heartfelt. Continuing on that theme, and throwing some red meat to the BSS faithful, the band played “Fucked Up Kid,” off 2007’s Spirit If…, contrasting Drew’s new, quiet keyboard-driven sound with plenty of big guitar rock.

Judge musicians by their talent, the songs they sing and the other talented musicians who will gladly play with them: Drew proved himself on all counts on Monday night. But it was the communal connection with the crowd that elevated the performance to something special. From the edge of the stage during “My God,” Drew sang, “What are you dreaming about now?” as the band curtained him with a dreamy backdrop before the singer jumped to the floor, calling in everyone closer and having them raise their arms, like the audience had swallowed him as he sang. (Drew later hugged concertgoers and had them say a little bit about themselves as if hosting a talk show. Sure it was corny, but it was an honest connection and a powerful moment.) The final charge of the 100-plus minute set included a moving solo acoustic new song possibly called “Skylar,” a guest appearance from opener Andy Kim and at least one more foray into the crowd. Near the end, Drew obliged various Broken Social Scene requests, bouncing around some sing-alongs before settling on a solo acoustic version of “It’s All Gonna Break,” which often served as the big, long rock-out set closer for BSS shows. But last night, it was a rowdy but real sing-along filled with plenty of expletives, poetic lyrics and glorious anthemic moments. It encapsulated Drew and the night perfectly, the crowd reminded once again that, oh, yes, he’s still got it. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com


Brendan Canning: Worth the Wait

January 27th, 2014

Brendan Canning – Mercury Lounge – January 24, 2014

The jokes kind of write themselves: Canadian musician postpones show due to visa issues, comes “down South” to New York City in January during a historic cold snap instead of October when climes may have better suited him. But as Brendan Canning explained at Mercury Lounge on Friday night, it was all for the best—the delay had given him time to tweak his band and the music, and judging by the resulting set, who am I to argue?

Looking every part the veteran and an elder statesman of the Toronto music scene, Broken Social Scene’s Canning and Co. opened with a wash of spacey instrumentals, his band, a full guitar-heavy sextet, trending toward the subtle and the beautiful. The wall of sound eventually turned into tracks from Canning’s new album, You Gots 2 Chill. It’s filled with lo-fi songs and ideas, many sounding almost like he had made them lovingly, in his bedroom. Live, though, the band added an oomph and a measured interplay to the material, each song sounding like it could just keep going forever without complaint from musicians or the audience. Random film clips were projected on the back wall, giving the impression that the band was playing on that magical other side of a movie screen, perhaps an entire other audience out there unaware of the cinematic music being made.

Late in the show, when Canning had loosened up with the banter, he gave a helpful recap of the set: “spacey intro, first songs off You Gots 2 Chill, old Broken Social Scene, album material, new songs,” and that’s pretty much how it went. But song selection was only part of the appeal, the band felt totally frictionless, free to glide unimpeded in any direction. “However Long” was a highlight, stripped of the electronic bleeps on the studio version, the band dug into the breezy melody with vigor. It’s always a pleasure to see a band of this caliber deliver quality new material, and Canning didn’t disappoint. “Once I Was a Runner” was an indie-rock keeper with a jangly mellow outro. “Hey Marika,” advertised as a cross between the Everly Brothers and the Grateful Dead, didn’t disappoint with a rollicking jam that Canning hoped might get them into Bonnaroo. The final song, “Your Turn,” kept that open-ended theme going, starting sweetly and then building to a big BSS-esque finish while the projection turned appropriately to a rocket blasting into orbit. Canning stayed onstage with his acoustic guitar plucking a beautiful little instrumental solo to end a night well worth the wait. —A. Stein




Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning Plays Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

January 23rd, 2014

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brendan Canning is most well known as one
of the founding members, alongside Kevin Drew, of the music collective Broken Social Scene. And although the much-loved Canadian rockers are on hiatus, Canning has remained incredibly busy, working on a variety of projects, from composing a movie soundtrack to recording his second solo full-length album, You Gots 2 Chill (stream it below). Filled with fingerpicked acoustics and soulful, tranquil music, the LP, despite arriving last October, is the perfect soundtrack for right now. AllMusic calls it a “decidedly unassuming collection of psych-tinged, indie/electro soft-rock daydreams that are tailor-made for snowy, hungover, late-January afternoons.” And Canning (above, performing “Never Go to the Races” for Exclaim! TV) comes to town to play the early show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.


With a New Album, ON AN ON Play Mercury Lounge Tonight

February 6th, 2013

While standing in line together for a show in Austin, Texas, Midwesterners Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing decided to forgo their current projects to work together as ON AN ON. Wanting to avoid over-processed, polished music, the three headed to Toronto to collaborate with producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals). “We really wanted to get away from the sterility of our previous approach to recording,” said Eiesland. And what they moved toward in the recently released Give In, is 10 caution-less songs filled with electro beats, synths and ambient sounds, not to mention a healthy dose of guitar, bass and drums. Give the album a listen, below, watch ON AN ON, above, do “The Hunter” for JBTV and then go see them play Mercury Lounge tonight.


Stars Shine Bright at Webster Hall

September 24th, 2012

Stars – Webster Hall – September 22, 2012

For more than 10 years, Canadian indie-pop band Stars have been making sweet music on their own terms. From their early beginnings, the band’s members would rotate in and out of Broken Social Scene. For their 2007 release, In Our Bedroom After the War, Stars released the final cut online before the official release to deter any album leaks. Their next album, The Five Ghosts, was released on their own label. On Saturday night among a sold-out Webster Hall crowd, Stars shined ever so brightly with their latest release, The North, in their back pockets.

With the Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” introducing the quintet to the stage, the electric keys opening “The Theory of Relativity” evoked the excesses of the ’80s. Amy Millan, dressed in a sparkling sheath, danced and sang to “Fixed,” from their previous album, The Five Ghosts, and then dedicated “Ageless Beauty” to a fan who was seeing Stars for the 22nd time. The crowd erupted for “We Don’t Want Your Body” and upped the ante for old favorite “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” as the audience sang along while one fan showered the stage with flowers.

Returning to the new album, the boy-girl vocal exchanges between Torquil Campbell and Milan really shone on “Do You Want to Die Together.” And Milan shimmied and shuffled to “Backlines.” Her saccharine vocals cooed a mellow, whispery delivery on the opening of “Lights Changing Colour.” The remainder of the evening was a stream of back-catalog favorites including “Dead Hearts,” “Elevator Love Letter,” “Midnight Coward” and “Take Me to the Riot” for all the Stars stalwarts. Campbell was the first to return to the stage for an encore of “The 400,” while Milan casually perched herself against the drums, singing backing vocals. Fittingly the opening lines, “You know that I’ll see you again / It’s just an hour or two by airplane” were the perfect ending for fans awaiting their next show. Earlier in the night Campbell spoke openly about how the fans were what made the concert and as long as they kept coming Stars would continue making music. Heck, they were already gearing up for a late show at Mercury Lounge. —Sharlene Chiu



The House List Is Heading Back to SXSW

March 8th, 2011

March has begun, which means a few things: We change the clocks soon, the NCAA Tournament is fast approaching and The House List is headed back to SXSW next week. We’ll be setting up camp again at IFC’s Crossroads House on Sixth and Brazos, and we’ll be keeping you up to date with everything happening 3/16-18. We’ve got a great lineup of interviews and performances, including Brett Dennen, Portugal. The Man, Lupe Fiasco, Young the Giant, City and Colour, Little Dragon, Emmylou Harris, Fitz and the Tantrums, Liz Phair, Sharon Van Etten, the Rural Alberta Advantage and Wild Flag. And we’ll have links to live streams, interviews and plenty of photos. So make sure you tune in! In the meantime, check out Broken Social Scene, above, playing “Texico Bitches” at last year’s SXSW.


Watch Broken Social Scene’s Entire Show from Last Week

January 25th, 2011

Broken Social Scene (above, doing “Water in Hell”) is known far and wide for their big sound and great live performances, and they certainly didn’t disappoint last week at Terminal 5. Those in attendance were blown away, as was the online audience. And since it was such a stellar night, we want you to have the chance to relive it—or see it for the very first time. Either way, head to our YouTube channel and check out this entire show!


Broken Social Scene Electrifies Terminal 5

January 19th, 2011

Broken Social Scene – Terminal 5 – January 18, 2010

Broken Social Scene - Terminal 5 - January 18, 2010

Last night, Broken Social Scene, the seasoned Canadian indie-rock collective, broadcast their show from Terminal 5 to an Internet-wide YouTube-viewing audience. On backlit screens around the world, I imagine small but impassioned groups of fans connected to the stream, speakers turned up and eyes fixed on the performance. As digital music forces record companies to amend outdated practices perhaps this is the new fan experience: concerts from the comfort of your own home. Nothing else seems to be sacred, so the live show is the next logical step for digital revamping. But the experience of a concert, the “being there” quality ranging from sound to the energy of the crowd, is irreproducible. Just ask anyone who was at Terminal 5 last night.

Over nearly two-and-a-half hours, Broken Social Scene dug deep into their expansive catalog. While the majority of the set covered the band’s most recent album, Forgiveness Rock Record, “Guilty Cubicles,” “Cause = Time” and “Fire Eye’d Boy,” from their first three albums, respectively, stood alongside newer songs with equal if not greater passion and interest. Even “Canada vs. America,” a rarely played track from EP to Be You and Me, was revived in part due to the rise of the Tea Party, according to frontman Kevin Drew.

Drew, the band’s cofounder along with bassist Brendan Canning, ostensibly stole the show. For “Lover’s Spit,” he solitarily played the introduction on keyboard, and at the close of “Superconnected,” the showstopper dedicated to a friend’s passing, Drew strummed out the song on electric guitar. He even got the big rock and roll moment on “Ungrateful Little Father” when he dove into the crowd. But, ultimately, the night belonged to those onstage and although Drew joked that each of their songs sounds like the end of the show, the band actually closed with a wonderful cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Ooh Baby Baby” (with the opener, Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic) and a subdued version of “Stars and Sons.” These songs, an encore after the end of the stream, further proved that “being there” is worth the price of admission. —Jared Levy

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com

Tune In to Broken Social Scene Tonight at Terminal 5

January 18th, 2011

Broken Social Scene takes the stage tonight at Terminal 5, and if you’ve had the good fortune to see them before, you already know that with their big-band sound and high-energy performances, they’re a don’t-miss band. Some tickets are still available, but if you can’t be there in person—or don’t live in New York City—you’re in luck because this show will stream live beginning at 9 p.m. on our own Youtube channel. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action!


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Broken Social Scene on 1/18

January 17th, 2011


Just because the Broken Social Scene show at Terminal 5 tomorrow night will stream live on our very own Youtube channel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there in person. So The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to Grow a Pair? Then just fill out the form below, including your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Broken Social Scene, 1/18) and a brief message explaining why Rex Ryan’s boastful chatter has been good for the Jets. Eddie Bruiser, who’s headed to Pittsburgh, will notify the winner tomorrow. Good luck.

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Don’t Miss Broken Social Scene Next Tuesday

January 11th, 2011

The Canadians are coming! The Canadians are coming! Broken Social Scene plays Terminal 5 next Tuesday. And if you’ve seen them before, you already know their shows, packed with that great big-band sound, are not to be missed. But if for some reason you do have to miss this one, you’re in luck because the show will stream live on The Bowery Presents’ very own Youtube channel beginning at 9 p.m.


Big Band, Big Sound, Big Night

September 20th, 2010

Broken Social Scene – SummerStage – September 18, 2010

Broken Social Scene - SummerStage - September 18, 2010
Labor Day has come and gone, but summer technically lives on. The weather cooperated on Saturday, and an outdoor party in Central Park with Broken Social Scene providing the soundtrack was a brilliant idea. Bathed in red light and wasting no time, the Toronto collective launched into “KC Accidental,” the kind of anthem with which normal rock bands close their big-time NYC gigs. Of course, BSS is no normal rock band, and sometime between the blistering three-guitar start and the pogoing, fist-pumping finish, the number of musicians onstage doubled, with horn players and guitars everywhere you looked.

Later on, after an especially powerful “Cause = Time,” frontman Kevin Drew introduced himself to a horn player he said he’d never met. “This type of thing happens all the time in Broken Social Scene,” he exclaimed, and no doubt it does. The music was a magnet for more music and more musicians to make it. And there were enough on hand for a tour de force middle section of “Art House Director,” “Hotel” and “Romance to the Grave.” The latter was perfectly atmospheric and well served by the Sam Prekop’s vocals. In the opening slot, his band, the Sea and Cake, was a perfect foil. Their sound was slim and clean, a late-summer breeze floating on Prekop’s vocals and Archer Prewitt’s drifting guitar. Their bandmate John McEntire was an honorary BSS member for the night, providing double drumming on highlight after highlight.

The sound was big and when coaxed by the soundman to throw caution to the wind and just pay the fine for excessive volume, Drew and Co. didn’t require any arm-twisting, screaming out “Superconnected” with plenty of Andrew Whiteman guitar solos. Pushing up against curfew, even the encore was larger than life: four songs—each of which would have done the trick on its own—anchored by Whiteman’s beautiful “Looks Just Like the Sun.” Summer may have saved its best for last. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com


Broken Social Scene – Webster Hall – May 7, 2010

May 10th, 2010

Broken Social Scene - Webster Hall - May 7, 2010

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com


SXSW – Friday

March 19th, 2010
Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel

Only one more day left at the IFC Crossroads House, and today will be tough to beat. The interesting Aussie music collective the Middle East led off the day. M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel—She & Him—played with a backing band in the early afternoon. The sun was shining all day. People spilled out of work early, plus there are so many people in from out of town. So the IFC Crossroads House was packed all day. And everyone was pretty excited for Broken Social Scene. As always, they were great live, but they also proved to be hilariously entertaining. We headed back out to see other bands around town, and then we returned for the Whigs. I’d seen them play after Dawes at Lambert’s a couple of days ago. Just like then, the power trio killed it. Definitely check them out the next time you can. And you can check them out—plus all of the other action—tonight on IFC at 10 p.m. —R. Zizmor

Photo courtesy of Chris Reddish

The Bowery Presents Heads to Austin, Tejas

March 16th, 2010


We’re bringing music to the Crossroads House in conjunction with the IFC, above, plus we’ve got our own showcase on Thursday night at Emo’s, below. Don’t be a stranger. Come check us out!