Social Scene everything but broken

It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by an opening act. It’s even better to be blown away by the headliner. On Wednesday, Sept. 22, The Sea and Cake opened for Canadian alt-rock group Broken Social Scene at Higher Ground. Broken Social Scene is a musical collective with Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning at its core. Other notable members include Andrew Whiteman of Apostle of Hustle, Justin Peroff of Junior Blue and Lisa Lobsinger of Reverie Sound Revue who filled Leslie Fiest’s slot as front woman on this tour. Nearly all members of the band are involved in other musical projects, but on Wednesday, Broken Social Scene came together in a way that was greater than the sum of its indie-rock veteran parts. “I was flabbergasted. They all came together perfectly,” Thailur Vendenbergh, who attended the show, said. “I didn’t expect them to sound that full live.” Broken Social Scene took the stage that night in a cloud of purple smoke, with drinks in hand, and began with a strange, ambient intro. Then they jumped right in to the larger-than-life anthem — which may have been the theme song for the night — “Superconnected.” Drew’s vocals were drenched in reverb and an ethereal echo that gave them a hue more saturated than the magenta and teal stage lights that glowed behind the performers. Drew’s voice took on an intangible and grandiose quality as they played songs like “World Sick,” “Chase Scene” and “All to All” off their newest album, “Forgiveness Rock Record” — which was co-produced by The Sea and Cake’s John McEntire — and dropped to a vulnerable, utterly human tone during a moving rendition of “Lover’s Spit,” off Broken Social Scene’s first album, “You Forgot It In People.” Andrew Whiteman took the mic to perform “Art House Director” and the Apostle of Hustle song “Soul Unwind.” They also ended the night with a faster, more upbeat version of “Major Label Debut” than is on their self-titled LP. The stage swelled from six to 11 musicians during their two-and-a-half-hour set. With different arrangements for nearly every song, Broken Social Scene demonstrated a mastery of the stage and their performance was nothing less than a class act. “It was in the top 10 shows I’ve ever seen and I’ve been going to shows since 2006,” concertgoer Sam Punia said. They were not above having fun, however. Drew announced that they had been on the Nickelodeon show “Yo Gabba Gabba” earlier that day and proceeded to show the crowd “The Peanut Butter Dance.” Canning heckled an audience member who requested an Aerosmith song and had no problem announcing that he had “a special blend” in his teacup. Broken Social Scene gave the audience more than one could hope for on a Wednesday night. “We’re just here to play our guts out for you,” Drew said. They had a small army on stage and played a generous five-song encore. They didn’t take on-stage banter too far, and played plenty of crowd favorites from their three staple albums. Still, Broken Social Scene brought something more to Higher Ground that night. “This is the moment ladies and gentlemen, will you carry me? I don’t want to get hurt,” Drew said before he jumped off the stage to be hoisted by his fans. He got back onstage and ordered the audience, “Raise your hands in the air and on the count of three say, ‘Let it fucking go!'” And the crowd did. “It’s called life mother-fuckers, life.” Drew said. Their two-and-a-half-hour set was like a single moment of being that climaxed in a unified moment of individual catharsis. In this cleansing it was as though everyone in Higher Ground that Wednesday night became, shall I say, “Superconnected.” The band then jumped into the noisy, driving, guitar-heavy, life-loving instrumental jam “Meet Me In the Basement,” and the whole crowed seemed to dance together with an unplaceable quality that thrived without words.