Over The Weekend: Broken Social Scene at the House of Blues

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Broken Social Scene
House of Blues
February 19, 2011

Better than: on a night of so many choices, that's hard to say...

This weekend provided music lovers in Dallas with an overload of great options. Commitment to any one performance left the nagging feeling early in the evening that one might have made the wrong choice.

But Broken Social Scene is rarely a bad choice -- even if its touring set-up is often different than the one offered in live settings. Nonetheless, the touring band has remained steady for several years now. And with a catalog of songs expanded thanks to the release of last year's Forgiveness Rock Record, the band had plenty of material to build its set with -- even if it was a given that the set list would be loaded with the standards from 2002's You Forgot It In People

And, in the first few bars of show opener "KC Accidental" from You Forgot It In People, the band proved its mettle.

As much as anything, a Broken Social Scene show is a celebration of music and friendship, and, from the onset, this much was clear, with band members appearing to genuinely enjoy each other's musical companionship on stage. And these players work hard to extend their party to the audience.

On this night, that much came to fruition in the form of some surprises, the most obvious being that the band was supplemented with an expanded horn section that had been recruited locally. Kevin Drew, the ringmaster to the Broken Social Scene circus, even admitted at one point that "there were people in the band tonight [he] hadn't even met yet."

Other guests, he had met -- including Broken Social Scene's oft-absent singer Amy Millin, also of Stars. She joined regular female vocalist Lisa Lobsinger for several songs, including "Sentimental X's" and "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl."

Those were just adornments, though, to the band's 135-minute performance which pulled more from You Forgot It In People and Forgiveness Rock Record than the self-titled Broken Social Scene or Feel Good Lost. Still, it was a massive display: At any given time there were up to 14 people on stage, including as many as four guitarists, although it seemed everybody switched between guitar, bass, keyboards and horns at various points. With such versatile musicians, the line-up for one song might call for four or five guitars, or maybe two bass players, depending on the arrangement. It would've been confusing were these players not so skilled -- or held together with the extraordinary drumming of Justin Peroff.

Not surprisingly, when the band finally left the stage at around 12:30 a.m., there was not a disappointed fan in the house.

Critics Notebook
Personal Bias:
One aspect of Broken Social Scene live that never ceases to surprise is that, even with five or six guitars playing at once, the sound is not bombastic. In fact, the sound wasn't especially overpowering at all.

Random Note: At one point, all the band members left the stage so that Kevin could sing "Lover's Spit" solo. Well, almost all. Violinist Daniel Hart wandered back on stage and was chided by Drew, who apologized that someone had not provided clear direction to him. Ever the boss, Drew remarked he was going to have to fire somebody.

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