Broken Social Scene’s second night at the Neptune Theatre last Monday was an absolute lovefest. The Canadian indie rock vets rocked, grooved, and, later, hugged it with a sold-out crowd during their celebratory two-hour set. Beginning the night with the driving, post-rock blast of “KC Accidental,” from 2002’s seminal You Forgot It In People, the show started off at a high energy level, one which the group kept up through the rest of their performance.
The band was clearly having fun onstage together. Over the course of their nearly two hour-long set, which featured many tracks from their latest, Hug of Thunder, I saw bassist Brendan Canning can-can, guitarists Charlie Spearin and Andrew Whiteman engage in a mock duel, wielding their guitars like swords, and guitarist Sam Goldberg Jr. hoist his instrument above he’d just won a trophy.
Meanwhile, singer and semi-leader of BSS Kevin Drew kept things humorous and heartfelt. Drew offered lovingly goofy introductions of his bandmates, spun anecdotes about the band’s history, and expressed gratitude towards the crowd for supporting the band throughout their nearly two-decade-long career.
By the end of the evening, the crowd had learned that 1) Canning’s contributions to Len’s bizarre 90s hit “Steal My Sunshine” helped pay for a boomerang pedal BSS used on Feel Good Lost 2) Spearin once played in an acid-jazz-like band called Microbrew and 3) Goldberg Jr.’s playing on “World Sick,” makes Drew feel like he’s in “a good version of Guns ‘n’ Roses.”
Together, the group dished out their most popular songs just as freely as Drew offered fun facts, indulging fans in cathartic performances of songs like “Fire Eye’d Boy,” “Cause = Time,” and “7/4 Shoreline,” the last of which featured gorgeous vocals from singer Ariel Engle.
And what the band gave, the crowd gave back many times over. In fact, after a mosh pit finally formed during the pummeled pop of “Almost Crimes,” Drew worried if the crowd was getting a little too into it. “You guys alright?” he asked, half-joking, half-genuinely concerned. “I haven’t seen moshing in a while, but, hey, that’s love. I get it….Just make sure nobody gets hurt because then I get mad. And when I get mad I play songs that are very slow.” Then, BSS played “Major Label Debut (Fast),” which is, as you might guess, fast.
Ultimately, Drew decided he needed to investigate the safety of the crowd himself. At the beginning of the band’s three-song encore, Drew handed his mic to a burly security guard, hopped offstage, and entered the crowd. He announced that he'd be giving out hugs during the next song--the spacious “Lover’s Spit." The band began to play the song and fans flocked to the singer and waited for their blessing. Leaning against the front-row barrier, near center-stage, I stayed on the edge of the crowd and watched. Drew embraced everyone: a short woman in a colorful blazer, a lanky teen with one dangly earring, and a whole bunch of bearded, bespectacled men. The band stretched the song out to nine minutes as Drew waded through the sea of fans. He hugged everyone he could reach. The music took care of the rest of the crowd.