SXSW Snapshot: Broken Social Scene

SXSW Snapshot: Broken Social Scene

March 28, 2019 in Concert Reviews

by DJ Pavlov

Broken Social Scene - Historic Scoot Inn 


The aging of a 2000's era indie band can be a sometimes beautiful though otherwise dismal process. Seeing Broken Social Scene (BSS) was a nice checkmark off my list of artists I needed to see before I die, especially because their record Feel Good Lost is staple in the Aaron (me) canon.

Unfortunately, this concert made me believe that they lie somewhere on the latter end of an aging 2000's era indie band and their sound has not aged well at all.


If we investigate the progress of BSS's sound, it's easy to see a progression of their post-rockish soundscapes transform slowly into more baroque-pop oriented sounds. You can hear this especially in their self titled record which holds the timeless classic "7/4 (Shoreline)" and the baroque beauty of "Major Label Debut."

Gradually, this baroque sound mixed with the dense electronic production in previous records to become a more poppy, indie product in the form of their brilliant record Forgiveness Rock Record. This is where I feel BSS peaked. I feel that BSS achieved a perfect direction forward adopting a more accessible pop sound while respecting their original post-rock upbringing creating wonderfully creations that sound like mini-symphonies in the form of classics like "Sweetest Kill" and "Sentimental X's". 



Unfortunately, their sound took a bad step in relinquishing themselves of a lot of their post-rocky identity that was so fundamental to their sound with their followup record, Hug of Thunder, and the following EP Let's Try The After.

This band sounded void of personality performing live. They sounded technically proficient, but were making the same emotional impact as a division 2 baseball game.

The main sonic difference is that BSS took on a poppier approach to their sound and eliminated much of the openness and space they had in prior records. They used to achieve that by having one of the many vocalists in the band sing when called upon. Now, that thing that made them special to me feels lacking.


Although some of the handlebar mustache hipsters in the crowd seemed catered to by this sound, the concert felt as if it were lacking the same emotional depth that made their records such as Feel Good Lost and their self titled such staples. I think BSS has erased a key aspect of their identity and are no longer the BSS which once was.

Regardless of my rant, BSS did draw a crowd of 30-something-year-olds who sipped on their Austin Eastcider beers in bliss, and if they draw a fanbase, I can support that; but as a longtime BSS fan, I feel hurt. I feel that a band I once knew is slowly not becoming my band.

I hope that BSS can understand how drastic their sound has changed and find some way to integrate that crucial part of their identity in future concerts. 


Photo by: Broken Social Scene

Video by: Aaron Martinez

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