A few times a week, Gothamist publishes music reviews by our contributor Jeff Baum. The opinions below belong entirely to the author.
I treated myself to four and a half hours of Broken Social Scene this weekend. Was lucky enough to catch two of their three sold-out Webster Hall sets. Playing their first headline shows in the city in over a year, they managed to round up as many of the troops as they could muster. A total of 19 members on stage at one time, including a full horn section, Two drummers and countless instrument switches. It was a total circus on stage. It's hard to believe that members from three of their highest profile side projects (Stars, Jason Collett and Feist) weren't even there due to coinciding tours.
This is the one band that I not only am willing to go see more then once in a row, but I expect to make it a multiple day affair when they're around. What's funny is it's not as if they have hundreds of songs to draw from or anything. Three albums and a B-Sides collection. Not too shabby, but you need to go in expecting at least 12-15 of the same songs you heard the night before. Aside from a little stage banter from frontman Kevin Drew, These shows really didn’t differ too much. With so many pieces in place, it’s hard to deviate from the plan without somebody missing the memo. Regardless, there is just so much coming from the stage at once, a single night to soak it all in hardly does the collective justice.
While many may complain about the various inadequacies of Webster Hall as an indie venue, I think we are lucky to be able to see a band like this take on a venue this size. Seeing them on a stage this big allows them to let loose in ways a smaller club may act as a restraint. Everything about these guys is huge, from the number of personnel to the monumental sound. It is a completely overwhelming experience to see them perform on all cylinders like this. While there are always plusses to seeing anyone in the intimate confines of a small club, these shows just felt right. They have thankfully gained enough popularity so that they can fill a venue like this to capacity with real fans who know what they're getting into. On three straight nights, no less.
But really, no matter where they play or who comes along for the ride, it is a spectacle unlike anything else in music today. You can put me down for two more nights the next time they hit the on the road.
Check out pictures from both nights on flickr.