Toronto’s indie rock purveyors, Broken Social Scene, have been away on a long hiatus since their 2010 release Forgiveness Rock Record and are back with a new album and new outlook on life, the universe and everything. Founding members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning each went off and released individual albums with Drew’s Darlings in 2014 and Canning’s Home Wrecking Years in 2016 in between their break. The duo started the band in 1999 added to their collective many talented artists and musicians throughout the years including fellow Canadians, Leslie Feist and Amy Millan. The band is back with a new album and new tour for their latest release, Hug of Thunder. The album title, according to Kevin Drew, is an embrace in unity and at The Wiltern on their last U.S. date on their tour, it was nothing short of a bear hug for the Los Angeles fans.
The opener, The Belle Game, shined in spectacular light as Andrea Lo laid down some emotional vocals with their ethereal dream pop from Vancouver, British Columbia. On tour with Broken Social Scene, Katrina Jones and Andrea Lo have supported Broken Social Scene’s set list with backing vocals. The Belle Game impressed the crowd with the tremendous tracks “Spirit” and “Up Again” off their latest album, Fear/Nothing. The magnetic pop-rock came with ample wailing guitars and fearless solos from guitarist Adam Nanji as the group wasted no time in warming up the crowd for a splendid night of music from the north.
The show began with the diming of lights and explosion of guitars with You Forgot It In People’s “KC Accidental.” The crowd melted collectively at the first note and did not let off the boisterous cheers as the group covered songs from their entire catalogue including some unexpected gems. Original members included Sam Goldberg Jr. (guitar), Ariel Engle (guitar/vocals), Charles Spearin (guitar), Andrew Whiteman (guitar) and Justin Peroff (drums). After the barrage of hits to open the show, Drew paused for a moment as he acknowledged the long ride ahead for not only the band, but the sentiment for the country in general. “We love you, we believe in you, we know you’re going to get through these times,” Drew said to the adoring Americans. “Don’t let them divide you. This is for you.” The band thrusted into a song from their latest release titled, “Protest Song.” The band demolished the Wiltern with the influential guitars on “Cause = Time” as Drew cried out, “They all want to dream a cause, they all need to fuck the cause,” as the over-modulated vocal effects pierced through the amps.
A quick note from Drew revealed how the album and reunion came together. Producer Joe Chiccarelli hounded the band to reunite and record another album. After months of delays, Chiccarelli got them all back to the studio and recorded Hug of Thunder. “He was so persistent that he got us into the studio and that man is here tonight. Please give it up for Joe Chiccarelli,” Drew asked the crowd as they rejoined in the origins of this latest masterpiece from Broken Social Scene. The surprised the fans with an encore from The Archies’ vocalist, Andy Kim on a track that came from a spontaneous night of ingesting mushrooms with the crew. Kim gently handled the track “Sister OK” as Drew maneuvered the acoustic guitar into new heights. After the track, Drew commented, “They say don’t do drugs but sometimes it’s a beautiful thing.”
The return of Broken Social Scene is a much needed relief for fans of the Canadian collective looking to recapture the monumental sound of Toronto’s finest indie rock groups. The nearly two hour set covered highlights from their catalogue but still managed to leave the fans wanting more. They finished their set with a dramatic ending to “Meet Me in the Bathroom” as the song peaked several times after the fans thought the song was over. The musicians on stage would not let the moment go as the swell of instruments climaxed several times before they called it a night. This was one unforgettable night for fans waiting for a few more precious memories with Broken Social Scene. The band is wrapping up their tour in November with dates in Toronto. Hug of Thunder is out now on Arts & Crafts Records.
Fire Eye’d Boy
Cause = Time
Stars And Sons
Hug of Thunder
Major Label Debut
Ibi Dreams of Payment (A Better Day)
Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl
Meet Me in the Basement