Broken Social Scene @ The Slowdown, Omaha

Legendary. That’s the only way to describe the last time Canadian collective Broken Social Scene‘s last show in Omaha, Nebraska. Last year the guys were just chilling at a local coffee shop without a booked show, when a native recognized the boys and insisted they play. Broken Social Scene agreed and quickly set up over at the Slowdown Jr. stage. There was no announcement or promotion, but word quickly spread and a decent sized crowd gathered in front of the stage for a free, intimate set by BSS. They closed down the bar and went on their merry way leaving those in attendance feeling blessed to have bragging rights that they were at this special show.

Cut to 2008 and the band’s current tour in support of Brendan Canning‘s solo album. Tickets cost a hefty $20 and the band had moved up onto Slowdown’s bigger stage. The ticket price, which the band joked about and said their agent made them charge to make up for last year’s free show, did not seem to hold back people from coming.

Not everybody was there for BSS. Many Omahaians (if that isn’t a word, I’m making it one) were curious to check out the band’s tour mates and Land of Talk who recently signed to Omaha label Saddle Creek Records. However, Land of Talk’s singer Lizzie Powell, was a little ill (I think bronchitis might be the culprit, but don’t quote me on that). To make up for their absence, Canning saved the day and played a special DJ set, borrowing vinyl from one of the venue’s bartenders. It wasn’t your usual oomp-oomp-oomp, let’s go clubbing, DJ mix. It was a more chill, oldies blend that allowed people the chance to just drink and talk, but they could still have danced if they had wanted.

After listening to Canning DJ for a good hour, he put on a final tune and jumped up on stage where he joined the rest of his BSS chums to seamlessly begin their set. They began with some mostly instrumental tracks, which sounded great, but didn’t immediately grab the audience’s attention. It wasn’t until about the third number that the crowd broke loose and started jumping and moving along.

Canning initially started off lead vocals, which isn’t that surprising considering his album was the focus of this tour. However, in true BSS fashion, frontman duties were constantly shuffled around and Kevin Drew was soon back at the helm.

The set list was a great mix of old and new BSS material. However, with Powell out of commission, many were curious what would happen to the band’s numbers that feature female vocals. These fortunately were not cut from the set and Omaha’s very own Orenda Fink stepped up and saved the day joining the group for numbers like “7/4 (Shoreline).” Never at a loss for guest musicians, in addition to Fink, BSS was also joined on trumpet by Nate Walcott, whom you may better know from one of Omaha’s biggest exports, Bright Eyes. Nothing like a brass section to make a show better.

About midway through the show, the kickdrum pedal gave out and as most of the band left to deal with the problem, Charles Spearin remained out on stage to entertain by presenting his “science experiment,” as Drew referred to it. Basically, he played a sample of his neighbor speaking about a subject such as love and then had a sax imitate the cadences of her voice. It was like the woman was right there on stage speaking back to us, the mimicry was that good. The audience was quite amused. The kickdrum problem not immediately resolved, Spearin started in on another voice sample, which the saxophonist tried to mimic by ear. He was shortly joined by Canning on cowbell and the rest of the band trickled back in.

It was kind of an intermission to the set and many more hits followed. My favorite number was when Drew had the audience scream their guts out on “Ibi Dreams of Pavement.” It was a nice catharsis after a long day.

An epic performance of “It’s All Gonna Break” seemed to end out the set, but Drew was not ready to quit. He looked around at the other guys and started talking to the crowd. As he talked, drummer Justin Peroff started to lay down a beat, which Canning quickly picked up on bass. The rest of the crew joined in and Drew sat down and let the boys just jam for a good 7 minutes.

Not being able to end on a freestyle, the band played another raucous tune that seemed to have  eight different endings. Seriously. It would start to end and Drew would get behind the mic where he’d say a rather circular speech that always ended, “And it goes/sounds like this” and the band would repeat the tune.

This seemed to complete the set, but Drew was still not done. Everybody walked off and the crowd started to leave. Drew and Peroff came back out to play a Guided By Voices cover before finally calling it a night.

Total set time: 2 hours, 45 minutes. It might not have been secret and free, but this show was legendary in its own right. BSS might arguably be Omaha’s favorite live band.

Broken Social Scene: website | myspace

Written by: Bethany
Photos by: Nick Davis



New Music Tuesday!

Tuesdays are abound with new releases in the wonderful world of music and we here at PopWreck can’t get enough of that stuff. PopWreck will be bringing you what we consider the best of the new releases each week .

The Ravonettes Lust Lust Lust

On Lust Lust Lust, The Ravonettes manage to settle comfortably into a sound that most people never find the courage to attempt; simple straight forward rock. This band sees no reason for hiding behind bullshit, letting their surf rock meets new wave riffs speak of themselves on a cut that would make even The Pixies proud. Bonus: Kick-ass 3D artwork.

Key Track: “Dead Sound” — A Ramones influenced guitar progression bleeds into a brilliant new wave vocal pattern. Beautiful chime piano, which personally reminds me of something E from the Eels might write, creates a very charming chorus, before switching back into the top heavy verses. I pray to God that this is the single.

Sigur Rós Hvarf/Heim

Theoretically I shouldn’t like Sigur Rós. This is because musically I tend to rely on an artist’s lyrical strengths to determine how influential their works are on my life. That being said, we have a problem. I simply don’t speak Icelandic or whatever made up language that this band is singing in. Honestly, that proves something doesn’t it? The fact that Sigur Rós’s new album Hvarf/Heim doesn’t leave my car CD player makes it very apparent that emotion bridges the gap of language barriers. There is no need to know the exact wordings of the stories to sense the perceptual picture of what Jon Por Jonsi Briggison is painting.

Key Track: “Salka”

Bright Eyes Motion Sickness

We’ve all heard the joke: “I wish my lawn was emo so that it would cut itself.” Okay, fine, I get it; he’s whiney. Sizable scars or not, Conor Oberst knows his shit, and Motion Sickness is that Bright Eyes mixed CD we all secretly have hidden in our car. Oberst’s passion for music and sincerity in his words shines through in his live performances. A must-have of any live album.

Key Track: “When the President Talks to God” — This very pointed political middle finger still picks apart the President just as fluently as it did the night Conor played it on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Single of the Week:
Beck “Timebomb”
The perfect jam. When it makes me shake my tiny emo ass, Beyoncé ain’t got nothing on me. If this track is any indication as to what we should expect when Beck decides to release a new full length (sadly, no plans yet), I see buns of steel in my future. Thank God Beck is finally making cardio cool. Repetitive lyrics and an infectious hook will keep this tune in your head for days.

Also Out Today:
Tokyo Police Club Smith EP
The Dillinger Escape Plan Ire Works
Grizzly Bear Friend EP
Jay-Z American Gangster