Unlike its name, Broken Social Scene in concert is an experience that leaves you feeling the opposite of broken. You leave feeling whole, and your heart, full.
The Canadian collective played at the Fox Theater in Oakland last Thursday. Their set included a handful of new songs from Hug of Thunder, along with the group’s many hits. Opening with the high-spirited “KC Accidental,” the band took the stage to endless cheers from the crowd. They followed with another classic, “7/4 (Shoreline),” which turns the crazy time signature into a majestic, danceable frenzy. For “Protest Song,” they brought out a local brass quartet, who had to rush off stage after to get to its own gig.
In between tunes, Kevin Drew would converse with the audience about topics from the band’s travels to things they’ve seen around the Bay. On trying to recall if the group has ever played in Oakland, Drew asked “Is the Greek Theater in Berkeley or Oakland?”
“Berkeley!” the crowd unanimously answered. With both venues located in the East Bay, it’s understandably confusing. And fans seemed to get that, applauding the band’s consistent stops in the area.
Drew shared another anecdote before jumping into “Sweetest Kill.” During that afternoon, he had gone into a local clothing shop and later mentioned to the employee about the band. “She recognized our name and said this was her favorite song,” Drew said as he led into the tune’s hazy intro. A slow and sentimental serenade, it makes sense that “Sweetest Kill” is such a fan favorite. It felt surreal how much dreamier the track sounds in person.
Other set highlights included “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl,” which featured supporting vocals from openers The Belle Game. Before starting the song, Drew dedicated the landmark track to all the ladies present, setting off lots of cheers. Ariel Engle and The Belle Game’s Andrea Lo and Katrina Jones then proceeded to sing the haunting tune in a three-part harmony.
“Park that car / drop that phone / sleep on the floor / dream about me,” they repeated. Even though most knew where the song was going, it was still as chilling and poignant as ever, with many in the crowd cherishing the performance via soft sing-alongs.
Broken Social Scene closed the night with a bittersweet selection of songs, including “It’s All Going to Break,” dedicated to Gord Downie, “Lover’s Spit,” and “Cause = Time.”
To start off the show, The Belle Game opened with a set of gauzy, dream pop that set a perfect mood for the rest of the night. With heads bobbing, arms swaying and supportive cheers, the crowd showed the Vancouver group lots of love as they played songs off its latest album, Fear/Nothing, as well as its previous releases.
Photos and words by Rianna Chloe Catajan.