Live Review: Broken Social Scene at Warehouse Live, February 17, 2011 (Houston, TX)

Photo credit: Olivia Bolles

Broken Social Scene treated their devoted fans to extra helpings of captivating instrumentals and classic indie stylings during a two-hour performance at Houston’s Warehouse Live.

With the expected eclecticism of such a diverse ensemble, Broken Social Scene effortlessly oscillated between low-key rock and fever-pitched baroque pop. The throaty bass lines of “Texaco Bitches” blended nicely with the electro sci-fi funk of “Fire Eye’d Boy,” and the band succeeded in keeping its easy, old beats fresh and fun.

“Sweetest Kill,” off of the critically acclaimed Forgiveness Rock Record, stood out in the Thursday performance. The song rang out slow, haunting, and loud in the cool blue stage light, proving that Broken Social Scene defy the “I liked their old stuff better” curse with aplomb.

The show was not without its distractions, though they were no fault of the performers. Aside from battling Warehouse Live’s expansive Ballroom acoustics, the band had to combat its own chattering fans during the show’s softer moments. Even after repeated entreaties from front man Kevin Drew, the crowd gabbed through the quiet, gentle murmurs of the classic “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl,” obscuring Lisa Lobsinger’s haunting vocals until the song’s arresting crescendo. Gorgeous as the song is, it wasn’t enough to silence Broken Social Scene’s jerkier fans.

By the last half of the show, working stiffs had yawned their way to the exits, emptying out half of the venue. But the die-hard and/or marginally employed fans stuck around to hear the band loosen up its sound for three –- that’s right, three — show finales.

The mood became increasingly lighthearted after a riveting saxophone vs. guitar battle broke out during a cover of Modest Mouse’s “The World At Large,” inspiring Drew to jump into the audience, commandeer a fan’s camera, and take snapshots of the happy crowd.

But for the mournful “Lover’s Spit,” the band left Drew alone onstage with a keyboard, only to rejoin him slowly throughout the song with a cool, fluttering trumpet and soft, delicate guitar. The crowd favorite “Water in Hell” overturned this quiet moment, using the upbeat country jam for a big, big finish.

And then they played three more songs.

“We know that times are tough,” Drew shouted to the crowd, “and that’s why we rock the shit out of it.” It’s true; there’s no shuck and jive in Broken Social Scene’s performance –- just dedicated musicians and solid music.

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