Toronto indie-veterans Broken Social Scene (BSS) performed an unfiltered, career-spanning set Wednesday night, March 28 at the Joy Theater. Absent was the sensory overdose of strobe lights, fog machines and other theatrical accoutrement customary for tours these days. The gimmick-free show played to the band’s advantage, allowing their musicianship, camaraderie and au naturel surprises to steal the stage.
Consisting of a rotating roster of as many as 19 musicians, eight members led by frontman Kevin Drew assembled for Wednesday’s show; joining in for a few songs was a local trombone player the band allegedly met at the Spotted Cat earlier in the day. BSS began with a few of their smoother tracks, gradually accelerating towards more thunderous material. The show was full of unexpected detours. One of the more memorable – and enjoyable – moments came during an unintended intermission while the supporting staff struggled to find a misplaced bass; Drew breezily passed the time bantering with band co-founder Brendan Canning about BCS’s nearly 20-year run. Other standout scenes came when the band performed a cover led by touring female-vocalist Lisa Lobsinger from her upcoming album with her side project, Laser. Lobsinger would later be joined by opening-act The Belle Game for a penultimate encore of “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl.”
Just before a final performance of “Meet Me in the Basement”, Drew stopped the music and galvanized the crowd to scream as loud as they could, venting all of the past day’s pent-up energy into the night. The moment was a true Hug of Thunder, to borrow a title from their latest album, providing a perfect segue into a blistering finale.
Standout performances included “Protest Song” from their latest LP, and “Sweetest Kill” from 2010s Forgiveness Rock Record.