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!”

Bullshit Social Scene

I am going to the Broken Social Scene gig tomorrow and have no idea why any more.

I initially chose it out of desperation because I wanted to go to one Mosaic gig other than Kode9 & Spaceape, have already seen The Roots and Mum, and wasn’t drawn to any of the other acts. I hadn’t listened to any BSS stuff in a long time and foolishly thought that I had perhaps been too unkind to them in the past. Listening again, further removed from the hype of that Pitchfork review of You Forgot It In People which catapulted them to it-band status, I figured I might begin to see what all the indie kids make such a fuss about. Also, I thought that their typically large ensemble might make for a good live performance.

So earlier this week I listened again to You Forgot It In People and the self-titled album, and the optimism rapidly dissolved into utter boredom. Oh, shit.

I think I just wasted my money on fine clothes for a naked emperor.