Broken Social Scene (Esplanade, Singapore, 9 March 2008)

I’m sure I must have been to duller gigs in my life than Broken Social Scene, but perhaps unsurprisingly, I can’t remember any of them now. In hindsight, it’s ridiculous that I’d been hoping the Esplanade sound system or a large live ensemble would help me appreciate the band’s songs better – at least on my iPod I could always just concentrate on my book and relegate them to aural wallpaper but now, here I was, trapped in an expensive concert seat with no other alternative for entertainment or distinctive musical ideas except Alec’s gentle snores beside me. I later found out Jacob and Pearlyn had walked out halfway, and realized for the second time that sometimes I really have to stop being so damn Singaporean about Getting My Money’s Worth, and just cut my losses and leave.

Perhaps some BSS fan might read this and my previous post on the topic and conclude that there was never any possibility I would enjoy the gig, because I was prejudiced against it from the outset. In fact, I was hoping against hope that like for Tortoise and Jaga Jazzist, I would go in actively disliking their music and emerge wild-eyed, reeling and evangelical. It’s possible my error of judgement here was equating BSS with the other two bands, because I find BSS’s music so pedestrian that I can’t even summon up active dislike for it, just complete indifference.

I don’t mean to enlist other people’s opinions in support of my own, but I enjoyed emptysignifier’s text-messages of outrage too much not to share them. (Again, emptysignifier attended the gig with an open mind, as a self-proclaimed “gigslut” just checking the band out. Although he has been on the receiving end of my music snobbery many times, he pays me no mind whatsoever, which is great.) I’ve received 4 instalments so far, starting immediately after the gig and even extending until yesterday! (Just provide RSS feed already lah!) Some excerpts:

  • “…for a band with a name like Broken Social Scene, they played more like a United National Front!…Why play a 2-chord rock song on FOUR guitars?!?!”
  • “While u rubbished them from the outset, I thought they were at least an erudite, intellectual band making introspective, eclectic, atmospheric music. But they’re really a rent-a-rock-band!”
  • “I mean, what’s with the woman and the trumpet? She had it hooked up to an uber cool utility belt of FX pedals, which was totally set up for consciousness-expanding sounds, but no matter what she did it still sounded like a goddamn trumpet!”
  • “…the ending was a fucking NDP warm-up cheering session!”
  • “Kevin Drew is the poor man’s Wayne Coyne!”

Even on a personal level and totally disregarding music, this gig = FAIL for me. I actually started the gig in a positive frame of mind about the band, because I thought their introductory joke about the members who weren’t present – including “Mas Selamat Kastari, who didn’t turn up for rehearsal” – was quite funny. Unfortunately, they then frittered away my goodwill over the course of the evening with a number of patronising comments (Matt, who attended the gig with an open mind since he’d never heard of them, and whose said mind I am incapable of poisoning with my music snobbery anyway, dealt with these pretty well in his account) and too many self-led cheerleading “OK EVERYONE CHEER FOR 60 SECONDS!!” sessions. For what blessedly turned out to be the very last one, after sitting in pained silence for the entire gig I finally reached the end of my tether and participated enthusiastically in the noisemaking by bawling “YOU SUCK! SHUT UP! FUCK OFF!”


  1. I was hoping for something like Akron family. It may as well have been Lighthouse family.

    I left twice. Once for a smoke and then once an hour before the end to get a beer and a table for hawker food. A much better way to spend time.

    You didn’t mention the (orange shirted) guitarist’s weird crouching bird stalking kitten poses he would strike. That was the most entertaining thing or me. Idiot.

    The Root’s will show these indie poseurs how to put on a live performance and play good music.

  2. Yeah I left at the same time as Arthur, it was awfully boring. I hated (in descending order) the orange-shirted guitarist and his balletic attempts at getting feedback from the amps, the egomaniac leader, and the trumpet woman with the fucking belt she couldn’t stop touching.

  3. Benny is absolutely correct. Let’s keep things upbeat by pointing out the positives.
    Oh, I should mention that I had a fantastic nap during this performance. If there was a separate rating category for nap, I’d give it an 7 out of 10. I’m docking three points because I woke up with 40 mins of the show still to run. That was a bit of a bummer.
    Other positives,…well the crowd seemed to enjoy it. They all cheered wildly whilst being condescended to by an ignorant, assuming Westerner. Speaking as an expat, it made me feel much more relaxed.
    In fact, I’m planning to propose to Matt that we start our own band. I’ll provide the unthinking rudeness. Matt knows 5-6 chords on the guitar so I think we can share.

  4. So much hate. So much anger. It makes me sad. Why doesn’t anyone love BSS? So the band was indulgent, basked a little too much in its own glory and sure as hell sounds a lot better on record than in person. But there’s no reason to be so bitter about it. We mustn’t allow the forces of darkness to consume us. We have to open our eyes to the fact that there’s positivity in everything, from rocks, to trees, to Canadian ensemble indie rock. Only when we suppress the hate and anger will the Rainbow-Coloured Unicorn of Universal Affection emerge from our hearts and impale the Hideous Spectre of Negativity! Let her out! Let her roam wild and free!

  5. sieteocho: Yeah, I’d been trying to choose between that and BSS and obviously made the wrong decision. Rargh.

    Benny: Wild and free and NEKKID!

    Arthur: Hee, I preferred the uncorrected “That was the most entertaining thing or me”. Hmm, I listened to the self-titled Akron/Family album but never got into it. Is there a different one you’d suggest I try?

    brandon: Haha, I thought I was just being a meanie by noticing the trumpet lady’s constant belt touching! Meanies unite.

    Alec: Can I be the drummer in your band? I can do the thing where one of my hands crosses over the other hand while drumming!

    Reta: Nothing wrong with being serious when I can rely on commenters to bring the funny. :)

  6. I have the same album, but it is the live performance I saw in Nottingham which was great, especially as their encore was a cover of a Neil Young song. Good times.

  7. Oh dear, I bought one of their albums recently becaues I kept on seeing their name about and thought I’d give it a blind try.

    I still haven’t listened to it yet. I’m scared–I bought it in Brighton and I don’t know if I’ve reached my 28-day returns policy limit.

  8. Arthur: Yay for covers of Neil Young songs! Those are some of the few times when the typical whiny-voiced indie singer doesn’t annoy me, because they’re singing songs by the original whinesta.

    Russ: You like some stuff I really don’t like, so it’s still possible you’ll like this. Give it a try.

    Mag: Well, there were plenty of delirious screaming fans around me who did think they were awesome, so views do differ on this. :)

Comments are closed.