By Tanya Seledee

Broken Social Scene :: 11.11.05 :: Roseland Theater :: Portland, OR

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene electrified the Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon. The show was a wash of musicians flowing on and off stage, with up to eleven members performing at once. Their sound was a mixture of indie-rock and pop with elements of jazz, disco, and avant-garde rock and roll. At times there were five guitarists, two drummers, a horn section, two singers, dancers, a violin player, bass, and keyboards to boot. There were no specific drum or guitar solos, rather each person treated their time on stage like the spotlight was only on them. From start to finish, they maxed out their instruments without going over the edge. Their music was fluid yet concentric, the riffs and jams following along the same current but never the exact lines. They fed off of the audience and let their unbridled energy translate into a constant flurry of activity on stage.

Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene was derived and contrived by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. The two, as well as subsequent members, were part of the highly experimental indie music scene in Toronto, Canada (Metric, Do Make Say Think, Stars). Since the conception of the band, the ensemble has fluctuated in size and instruments but has still managed to keep the sound relatively in synch with their original intentions.

Their songs were immediately catchy but far from the basic 'pop' formula that saturates radio. They were able to strike a balance between a physical and a mental experience. In other words, you could move along with the melodies but still escape into a dreamlike state, leaving you completely uninhibited in a sea of people. Each song was a complex arrangement of spontaneous yet simultaneous noise that aligned itself at just the right moments. The female vocalists provided a kind of ebb for the rest of the band's unabashed flow of energy. When they approached the microphone, you could visibly see the band hinge onto their words. Singer Feist's (who opened) mere presence on stage was enough to spike the energy in the theatre ten-fold. Her electrified dancing and honest love for the music rallied the whole joint, adding to the blinding chemistry that was happening on stage.

Broken Social Scene
As the night drew to an end, an encore was demanded by the audience because no one wanted to go home. Just when the crowd began to settle down, BSS once again upped the energy by inviting local Portland musicians Isaac Brock and Benjamin Weikel of Modest Mouse on stage. What was supposed to the conclusion of the show turned into an improv jam with Brock at the microphone and Weikel at the drums. And yes, the rest of BSS joined in creating a fusion of sound that literally electrified Brock's microphone throughout.

There are those times when you take a chance on a band that you might have heard of in passing but haven't experienced personally. Broken Social Scene is one of those bands that, should you have the opportunity to see them, you had better go or you'll be missing out on one of the most fantastic performances of the year. This band's approach to making music is as refreshing as it is inspiring. They don't care about established music boundaries, and there is no attitude - only a carefree unified vision of maintaining a boundary-free arena to play their hearts outs.

JamBase | Portland
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[Published on: 11/17/05]

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