Broken Social Scene at SXSW

SXSW 2010 Day 2 Recap - She & Him, Broken Social Scene, and more

Plus The Besnard Lakes and Local Natives

Mar 21, 2010 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share


Day two of SXSW was a bit challenging, considering the lack of sleep we'd gotten the night before. Seeing a show at 1 a.m. is all well and good if you don't have to wake up early the next morning to write about it or conduct other business. We weren't able to attend any day parties on the second day of SXSW music 2010, due to two photo-shoots we were conducting, including one at the way too early hour of 10 a.m. (well, early for SXSW). But that night we were able to catch sets from two Canadian bands (including one collective who's seemingly no longer broken), some Los Angeles natives, and a camera shy actress/singer.

We didn't see any live music on day two until 8:30 p.m., when we caught part of a set by The Besnard Lakes at Stubb's. The Montréal-based band sounded a little bit muddy and plodding, perhaps due to a bad sound mix. Even "Devastation," one of the highlights from 2007's acclaimed sophomore album The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse, failed to soar.

We then headed over to the Merge showcase at Cedar Street Courtyard. We sat out a set by the perpetually sleepy Radar Bros., opting for a seat and drinks at the bar with friends. We were really there for She & Him, who went on 25 minutes late. Before the band took the stage an announcement was made that they had requested that no photos be taken of them. Zooey Deschanel reiterated this after performing the first song, saying, "May I say a word about flash photography? Maybe not. Maybe no flash because it looks cooler. Maybe set it on a longer exposure because it will look cool and people will think you're cool. Plus we'll all go blind.... Anyway, I love you all." Being an actress, you'd think that Deschanel would be used to being photographed, or perhaps she's tired of it. No doubt being assaulted by flashes while performing can be trying, but several in the audience didn't heed the singer's photography lesson and flashed away regardless. Besides, a long exposure often garners blurry photos when photographing performers in movement under low light conditions. Unfortunately, She & Him's performance was also unfocussed and underdeveloped. M. Ward's guitar playing was as charismatic as ever, but the duo's backing band was less than dynamic and Deschanel seemed a little uncomfortable. She & Him pulled it all together much more nicely during their SXSW Merge showcase performance two years ago.

"This is our third show of nine at South By. Six more," said Local Natives' singer Kelcey Ayer during the band's set at Emo's main room. It was easy to see why the Los Angeles natives were one of more in-demand bands of SXSW 2010, as they were also one of the best. Sometimes a band just works, and it's not always easy to quantify why. Local Natives are all about forward movement. That propulsion is sometimes fueled by dual drumming. Set closer "Sun Hands" kept building to an explosive climax. Local Natives aren't doing anything particularly experimental, their reference points can be easily pinpointed, but sometimes a band just have an indefinable magic that simply works.

Our Thursday night's entertainment concluded where it began, back at Stubb's, this time for a set from Broken Social Scene. The Canadian collective mainly played songs from their forthcoming fourth album, Forgiveness Rock Record, out in May. Bands with new albums due for release soon after SXSW often perform a bunch of new songs, even though most of the audience hasn't heard their new album yet. This doesn't always go down well, and such might have been the case with Broken Social Scene that night. They only played one song from their classic second album, You Forgot It in People: "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl," which included vocals from an enthusiastic Emily Haines (Metric was playing at the same venue with Muse the next night) and was the clear highlight of the set. "Give it up for Apostle of Hustle. He broke his collarbone two months ago, but he's here for you tonight," said vocalist Kevin Drew of Andrew Whiteman (aka Apostle of Hustle) before playing Broken Social Scene cut "Fire Eye'd Boy," which Whiteman sang. Their third album was also represented by "Shoreline," which featured a rousing horn section, but most of the rest of songs were from Forgiveness Rock Record. "This is the first time we've played this song since we've recorded it," said Drew before one Forgiveness song. "This is a ballad for healthcare...we figured someone from Canada had to do it," Drew said before another new song. "Good luck America. I believe in you in all this shit."

True to the Forgiveness title, Drew was all about reconciliation. "I got to send this one out to Brendan. Brendan, I talk shit because I love you," he said to BSS co-founder Brendan Canning. "We're putting the band back together and we're going to fight this time," Drew later proclaimed, referencing the five-year gap between proper BSS records (not including the two Broken Social Scene Presents albums). The band might have earned more audience goodwill by playing a greater selection of older favorites, but Drew had faith in his audience, closing the show (and our second night at SXSW) with the statement, "We're Broken Social Scene and we believe in you. Goodnight."

Click here for a fully gallery of photos from day two of SXSW 2010.

 



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