After spending the last two nights at sweaty, smelly rock shows, last night Broken Social Scene show at the Palace Theatre was literally a breath of fresh air. There wasn’t a mosh pit to watch and there weren’t crowd surfers to count. It was a show where I was able to stand there and just take in the music. I think I was due for a night like that.
The show opened with Frightened Rabbit, a band that I’ve seen a couple of times but never seemed to get the hype surrounding them. They were always good live but I never found anything to write home about when it came to them. Last night I finally understood the hype and can finally call myself a fan of the band. I loved every minute of their forty-five minute set but I don’t think anything changed with the band– more it changed with me. I am finally in a spot in my life where faster and louder is not always better. Does this mean I’m getting old?
This five piece indie rock band from Scotland has, as I mentioned, been getting nothing but hype over the past couple of years. With five full length albums dating back to 2006, it’s easy to say that they are a hard working band and don’t show any sign of giving up anytime soon and that makes me extremely happy.
Their set last night was calm and chill. Singer Scott Hutchinson had a sense of humor and a way of heckling the crowd that didn’t quite match the mood of the music but left a truly lovable atmosphere throughout the Palace Theatre. He joked around asking if there was a rivalry between Saint Paul and Minneapolis. When he didn’t get a response, he mumbled into the microphone, “Well fuck it, I guess I’ll just play then!” all while keeping a charming smile on his face. Although his Scottish accent made some of his jokes hard to hear or understand, it didn’t stop the crowd from chuckling along when they would get one of the punchlines or understand the heckling that was going on.
The other four members of the band stayed quiet in-between songs allowing Scott to steal the spotlight but, when the music started, that dynamic completely changed. It was easily to see that each member brought something special to the table and, if even one member decided to leave the band, everything would change. Their indie rock sounds were pretty standard but they weren’t generic. It was music you could easily get lost in if you had never heard it before and, if you had been a fan for years, music that you could raise your hands up and move around a little bit to. I was shocked by the amount of people that flooded out of the theatre after Frightened Rabbit’s set. They have clearly made a mark on the Twin Cities music scene even with just a few visits and I’m already patiently waiting for their next appearance here.
Canadian rockers Broken Social Scene were the headliners of last night’s show. Honestly, I had never really heard their music before but their name was enough to spark a bit of interest (and the fact that I wanted to see Frightened Rabbit again). BSS is more of a collective than an actual band. Think the Doomtree of the indie rock world. When you go to see BSS live, you don’t quite know what you’re going to get and I love that element of surprise. Is it going to be a six piece? Maybe a 19 piece? I stood in my spot at The Palace Theatre and patiently waited to see what form BSS would take last night.
As the lights went down, six members took the stage. I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I wanted to see this huge band take the stage and, instead, I got six? The music started and my disappointment fell by the wayside. You could honestly feel the creative juices coursing through the crowd and air. I instantly found myself tapping along to the music I had never heard before with a smile on my face. After scanning the crowd my eyes went back to the stage where there were now nine members sharing the spotlight. I had to count a couple of times just to make sure I wasn’t loosing it.
Throughout the nineteen song set, members of this band would come and go as needed. They seemed to play musical chairs when it came to instruments and placement on stage leaving each song feeling like a brand new band. It was refreshing and it kept me from feeling my exhaustion levels as they creeped up to the “out of control” level. I was truly excited with each break between songs because I wanted to see what would come next and who would be where.
The crowd was rowdy in the way you get rowdy at an indie rock show. They cheered and clapped politely between songs but immersed themselves in the music during said songs. There was a sense of respect that the crowd showed the band. It was mirrored by the appreciation the band had for the crowd. The beauty of shows like this is there is no judgement. If you want to stand up front with your arms in the air pretending like you’re in a mosh pit- go for it. If you would rather be a fly on the wall with a drink in your hand- go for it. Regardless of how you wanted to spend the show, there was a smiling face of a stranger next to you and that, right there, was a perfect setting for a show like this.
Thursday night wasn’t exciting. I can’t write about the epic mosh pit that opened up or the drunk people that scattered the sidewalk frantically chugging water as I walked out. I can tell you about the beautiful music and atmosphere that I found myself in last night. Sometimes that makes for a better show than a high injury count.