The membership of Toronto indie-rock impressionists Broken Social Scene fluctuates between as few as a half-dozen and as many as three times that, which maybe has something to do with how this band has always — well, since 1999 — made music that feels intimate and epic at the same time.
Their generous 130-minute show at the Warner Theater last night boasted a lineup of eight (with Lisa Lobsinger performing the parts sung on record by BSS alums Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, and Amy Millan) performing crystalline lullabies, triumphant fist pumpers, and a few of the discursive, hazy instrumentals that used to get a lot more time on the collective’s albums than they do now. The one that came out at the beginning of summer (after leaking weeks earlier) Forgiveness Rock Record, is more focused and song-oriented than its forebears. It contributed the bulk of last night’s set, but the show still felt thrillingly rife with possibility, even if it was, as frontman and co-founder Kevin Drew repeatedly observed, a Monday night. (That still matters when you’re a full time rock semi-star? Depressing. A more likely potential inhibitor was that Of Montreal and Janelle Monae were kicking off a tour a couple miles north at the 9:30 Club.)
The widescreen march “World Sick” showed us where the ceiling was; the group would reach that altitude again near the evening’s end, on the equally unbridled “Superconnected.” For all the pulse-quickening bombast, though, the most affecting moment came when the band left Drew alone to perform “Lover’s Spit,” a ballad so gloriously sad-sack it’d need only a minor refit to be turned into a great country song. After a song like that, you might need a hug, and it wasn’t long after before Drew and Co. wandered into the audience to dispense a few.
During the encore, Drew used the slurry bridge of “Superconnected” to howl a slow, raw version of “Money Changes Everything,” on which he implored the to “sing Cyndi Lauper with me.” Girls just wanna have fun, but the boys, they just cry, cry, cry.
A shorter version of this review appears on Click Track, the Washington Post’s pop music blog.