By Jim Schutze
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If you want to see both Broken Social Scene and the Stars, two of Canada's hottest indie-rock darlings, then you better hope DART builds a super-speed rail line in the next few days. On Friday, the Stars are opening for Death Cab for Cutie at the Ridglea Theatre in Fort Worth, and at the same time, BSS will ply their craft at Dallas' Gypsy Tea Room. Both groups share members and are even promoted by the same company, but sadly, they do not share a booking agent.
"It's just poor luck," says Brendan Bourke, promotions representative for Tag Team Media. "The Stars got asked on the Death Cab tour, and the booking agent for Death Cab obviously doesn't care about Broken Social Scene."
What's a maple-leaf lover to do? Well, if traffic allows, Deep Ellum could be but a mere 40 minutes away after the Stars' opening Ridglea set. Cross-town drivers would miss Gypsy opener Feist, yet another BSS member nabbing rave reviews for her glorious voice, but they might still catch some of BSS's headlining performance. Of course, such luck is about as likely as having two Canadian indie bands that share a label--and members--play different venues in different metroplex locales on the exact same night.
All of which is a shame, since the bands offer unique sounds at a time when uniformity has gripped the indie scene. The Stars are the (ahem) brighter of the two groups, with a romantic, epic sweep to their music. Their recent Set Yourself on Fire is the band's finest collection of exuberant dream pop yet, as vocalists Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell sound like loving (if bitter) high school sweethearts when they harmonize on such chipper fare as "Your Ex-Love is Dead." Sprinkle horns, synthesizers and ringing guitars on Millan's charm and Campbell's fiery presence, and you have a live band that could sway your American allegiance.
Really, the only act that could top the Stars' live show would have to be a 12-piece full of competing ideas and dynamic, dense soundscapes, and with those qualities, Broken Social Scene certainly lives up to its name. The group's most recent self-titled effort might not have the unapologetic gall of 2003's You Forgot It in People, but their self-described "infectious cacophony" is still in abundant supply. The album's tongue-in-cheek droll on "Major Label Debut" offers annoyingly muffled vocals and melodies which strain the very definition of the term, but in concert, don't expect anything subdued from this exuberant, spirited gang of Canucks as they tear through hits old and new.
Judging by the current semi-hysteria over Death Cab for Cutie (copies of their recent CD are back ordered at local stores, and their Ridglea show has already sold out), it appears that Broken Social Scene will suffer most from the snafu. "I know if I was the booking agent for BSS, I'm not sure if I would be scheduling my band on the same night as Death Cab," Bourke says. Neither would I, but then again, I'm just a fan of both Stars and Broken Social Scene, so screw me.