Kevin Drew

By day four, this CMJ hound needed a bit of a rest – which, in CMJ terms, means I went to one show instead of five. Truthfully, the one show was likely better than any combination of five, as it featured everyone’s favorite obscenely huge Canadian collective, Broken Social Scene.

Broken Social Scene kept it Canadian when choosing an opener, Montreal’s Land of Talk. The tinny, girl-fronted garage-rock three piece gave a respectable performance, but it was clear the audience was itching for what badge holders arrived insanely early for, and what ticket payers coughed up big bucks for.

It was clear early on that Kevin Drew (seen above), the closest thing Broken Social Scene has to a frontman, was in an especially feisty (pun intended) mood. Before “Cause=Time” (which he forgot the words to) he quipped, “Here’s another one we’ve been playing in your city for the past four years of our lives.” A few songs later he was markedly more agitated, which naturally peaked at the early-career fan favorite, “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl,” before which he announced, “This is one of the last times we’re going to play this.” At one point he said, “The is one of our favorites,” then left the stage. As the night progressed, he changed from complaining about how many times they’d the songs to stating, after every song, that the show was over.

Broken Social Scene: “Cause=Time” (download)

Drew’s rants aside, no one might’ve thought the band was tired of the material. Brendan Canning alone is still a joy to watch, in part because he looks like someone’s cool hippie father, and in part because of his fondness for high karate kicks at the punchiest parts of songs. The brass section served as the cheerleaders for the evening, whooping and gesticulating to rile up the audience every time they took the stage.

Displaying their encouragement for collaboration, separate members got turns in the spotlight, from current bassist Sam Goldberg’s tune “3,000 Miles,” for a project called Hawaii, to cuts from Drew and Canning’s “Broken Social Scene” presents albums. While they didn’t play any of he material, the frontwoman from Land of Talk, Elizabeth Powell, filled in on songs where Leslie Feist or Emily Hanes had appeared on recordings.

The most alluring solo highlight was the most unexpected, what Charles Spearin (also from Do Make Say Think) called “the science project part of the show.” Spearin has been studying the sing-song patterns in speech, and lately has been inviting his neighbors over and recording them speak. First, he played a clip of his neighbor Mrs. Morris, a woman with a rather Caribbean accent, talking about happiness and love. He then repeated the clip with a saxophonist playing the accompaniment to the musical tones of the woman’s voice. Spearin didn’t say much about what he was planning to do with the project, but we can only hope there will be more.

Though Drew’s speeches at times made it sound like the band is breaking up, that’s luckily not the case – they’re supposedly just taking a break, and he said they will be back next summer with some kind of “three hour review.” Playing entire albums in concert is in vogue lately, and bands like Harvey Danger and Coheed & Cambria are playing entire discographies live. One can only assume that Broken Social Scene has something along those lines in the works. Be that the case, it will be worth Drew’s attempts to rain on our parade.

For more pictures from CMJ, see here.