Last Night: Broken Social Scene At Warehouse Live

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Photos by Jody Perry
Broken Social Scene, Zeus
Warehouse Live
February 17, 2011

Broken Social Scene's music is both simple and catchy and speckled with intricacies. It manages to be indie enough for even the hippest of hipsters to enjoy - at least we assume so; we haven't checked Pitchfork - and melodic enough for virgin listeners. If you've heard at least a handful of songs off any of their albums, you may very well be a fan; if you've seen them live, however, there's no question about it. You're a fan.

During their live performance, it's almost impossible not to get swept up in the energy the group gathers together amongst its members and shares with the audience. It was as if we went to our best friend's house, where he and a dozen or so other talented musicians had a two-hour jam session.

From saxophone solos set the beat of shakers to keyboard effects that sounded like birds chirping along with the bass alongside the beat of synthetic drums, Broken Social Scene may very well have played two or three rock concerts back to back, each aimed at a slightly different group of fans. By the end, they had played something for everyone.

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Low bass riffs coupled with high-end, slow guitar and a lot of delay on lead vocalist Kevin Drew's tone made up much of the show, as his smooth voice developed from mid-range and clean into something of a high pitched growl nearer the higher notes.

At one point, Drew politely asked the crowd to quiet down for a song featuring a female vocalist with little more than a whisper of a voice. The song was quiet, simple and beautiful... and we only wish we could have heard it more clearly.

The song in question, "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl," built slowly and steadily; it didn't reach its crescendo until nearly three minutes in. But we couldn't hear it over plenty of overly talkative fans, many of whom didn't seem interested in the music at all.

What could have been one of the best songs of the night was lost in a sea of Houstonians' voices, and no matter how much we moved around in an attempt to find a quieter area, we didn't find one. Someone even booed during the performance.

Is this what happens when tickets are only $20? No wonder they're usually so expensive.

Location Info


Warehouse Live

813 St. Emanuel, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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I have seen three BSS shows over the years. Once at a very small venue in Houston (can't remember the name) in 2004 shortly after they released their breakthrough album You Forgot It In People; once at Bass Concert Hall in Austin in 2008 during a tour to support their self-titled album and at a time when their status as indie rock gods was firmly established; and then last Thursday at Warehouse Live.

The crowd was indeed bad, but I've noticed three, not-crowd-related, themes in BSS shows that have left me disappointed considering how much I like their music: (1) they play most of the songs too fast (much faster than the studio versions), which takes away from their impact; (2) the mix is usually off, probably due in no small part to the fact that the sound person has to coordinate levels on seven to eight instruments in dynamic songs; and (3) they get a little sloppy on the execution.

Positive notes are Kevin Drew's voice is fantastic live, tempo problems aside they have a rock solid drummer, and they play with good energy and enthusiasm. If they could just straighten out the problems, mostly the tempo and mix, BSS could make their live shows what they should be for any band--a better experience of the recorded music.


Remember that time Isaac Broke flew to Canada to catch a BSS show, only to take the stage and play a few Modest Mouse songs with them? Fucking right he did.


They had a great show down in New Orleans on Tuesday night, but I think the same problem, the crowd. As certain lull's during the show where the music really died down I caught some crowd noise and it seemed overly talkative too. Being up in the front I didn't notice unless the music died. Also had a helluvalot of young girls who didn't seem too interested in the band. I was happy regardless, first time to see them live they blew me away.


Agreeance. This was a great show -- they brought a similar energy to their Free Press Fest performance a while back. I'd see them again, but perhaps in a different city.

About the crowd: Houston audiences need to learn to shut the hell up. This isn't the first time I've been at a Houston show (at Warehouse no less) where the crowd didn't respect the performers or the people who actually wanted to hear the music. Why pay to yell at other people over loud music? I don't get it! I wouldn't mind paying a bit more per ticket if it discouraged the talkers from showing up.


spot-on review: this was a great show musically, but my gosh was this a bad crowd. I've been fortunate enough to see BSS a bunch of times and this was easily the worst audience I've had to deal with. Of course plenty of people were into it, but almost as many seemed more interested in chatting loudly during most of the set, even in the first few rows. I did enjoy the irony of K.Drew making the crowd chant "fuck you I won't do what you tell me", I thought that was a nice touch.

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