When Broken Social Scene announced that they’d be playing You Forgot it in People (2003) from start to finish at Toronto’s one-day festival, Field Trip, catching the show became a must.
The show was in celebration of Arts & Crafts’ ten-year anniversary, the label that kicked off Broken Social Scene’s career and recorded You Forgot It.
The festival was split into two grounds—the Garrison stage featured the bigger acts (Bloc Party, Stars, Feist, Broken Social Scene) and the Fort York stage was home to the smaller acts (Ra Ra Riot, Timber Timbre, Dan Mangan).
Just as the sun set, people started standing up from their blankets and lawn chairs, welcoming to the stage the grand assortment of musicians that make up Broken Social Scene.
The set started slow, dramatic, cinematic with the opening track, “Capture the Flag.” A brief pause before “KC Accidental” began, and finally, finally, the lyrics started up and Kevin Drew got to sing (syllable by syllable) the album’s opening line, “All your kind they’re coming clean / They shut their eyes, they miss their scenes.”
For “Stars and Sons,” the audience was on perfect clap-clap key, filling in that backing track unprovoked—proving that even after a day in the sun, people were stoked to be seeing Broken Social Scene—and the energy only increased when Feist made an appearance for “Almost Crimes.”
Things slowed down with “Looks Just Like The Sun,” and the band kept in the ‘Kevin after this’ line that is my favourite, thought-it-would-be-cut-in-post-production nuance of the album.
Pause. Kevin Drew asked what everyone thought of the day, then sent out “Pacific Theme” to the staff of Arts & Crafts, applauding the festival and adding in, ‘Because you deserve it Toronto, you deserve it right now more than ever’—preluding the political cussing out that would come later in the night.
“Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl” was up next—my favourite track off of You Forgot It. Watch Emily Haines (et al.) perform the song at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre back in 2009: it’s like magic, the way she builds the song up around those four main lines. But Haines was off towards NYC, and so when they welcomed her replacement on stage, you just knew it was going to be disappointing, no matter how well she sang “park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me.” The Field Trip version was sweeter and softer and still lovely, but Haines’ absence (her raspy, transcendental voice) was felt here more than anywhere else.
David Newfeld (producer of a few Broken Social Scene albums) was present, though, and Kevin Drew said it’s “just like old times;” the banter between band members made it feel like we were all spectators watching this family reunion of musicians. The political undercurrent gained momentum just before they began “Cause = Time,” Kevin Drew saying that it’s ‘not a rebel song’ despite the lyrics being ‘And they all want to love the cause / ‘Cause they all need to be the cause / They all want to fuck the cause.’
“Shampoo suicide” followed, and they transitioned right into “Late Night Bedroom Rock For The Missionaries.” Then, it was the slow and achy “Lover’s Spit.” Before the thick guitars started off, Kevin Drew set up a call-and-response between he and the audience. He said, “Are you going to get close for me?”
‘On the count of three I want you to yell, I’m sorry. One, two three–’
‘On the count of three I want you to yell, I love you. One, two three–’
‘I love you!’
‘On the count of three I want you to yell, I’ll call you tomorrow. One, two three–’
‘I’ll call you tomorrow!’
‘This song’s called “Lover’s Spit.”’
If I didn’t love Broken Social Scene before that, I would have loved them then.
They talked about their first producer, David Newfeld, and welcomed him on stage, singing the next one (“I’m Still Your Fag”) for him and going straight into the ethereal, violin-dominated “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart,” the close of You Forgot It In People.
Then it was, ‘This is your city and you know it,’ and they very aptly played “Superconnected” from their 2005 album Broken Social Scene, and followed it up with two other favourites from that album: “7/4 Shoreline” (which has some of the best drumming, like, ever) and “Fire Eye’d Boy.”
The collective threw in an unreleased track, “Jimmy and the Photocall,” but before they jumped into that auditory treasure, things really got political. Kevin Drew said, ‘You fight and you lose and you gotta keep fighting, and we got to get this city back. Cause this city’s going to shit, it really is. And it doesn’t deserve to.’ (I was liking his political interludes almost as much as the music.)
Maybe Kevin Drew thought there was still some ambiguity lingering. Maybe he was just really pissed. He tacked on, ‘That man does not belong in the fucking city hall’ and sent the crowd into whoots and whistles (whether from a day of beers and good music, or for true political reform—that’s up for debate).
Then a long ‘hooooooooly shiiiiiit ladies and gentlemen.’ James (Jimmy) Shaw from Metric showed up—that’s who the song was written for—and Kevin Drew thought he was going to cry. The family reunion vibe was at its strongest.
The band transitioned into their newer stuff, playing “Texico Bitches” from the 2010 Forgiveness Rock Record, which featured lots of audience clapping-along.
“Well that’s it,” said Kevin Drew.
They had four minutes before 11. They played one more song, “Meet Me in the Basement.”
The music video for that song is fanmade, in response to the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto. It features atomic bombs, Bill Clinton, ‘police state’ signs, guns, and fire, fire, fires. In ending their performance with that song, Broken Social Scene had clearly made their point about Toronto, punctuated throughout the night by the fact that Toronto’s clearest symbol (the CN tower) hovered behind the stage glowing blue and red, at times unintentionally coordinating with the stage lights. The show could’ve been subtitled, “Anthems for the City of Toronto.”
Politics aside, cheers to Broken Social Scene for reuniting and playing a record monumental to Toronto’s indie rock scene. They’re a killer band and hearing You Forgot it in People in it’s entirety was just hooooooly shiiiiiiit.