Saturday, November 29, 2008

Broken Social Scene: Toronto, November 28th

Last night, I made it up to the Great White North  to see Broken Social Scene play the final show on their tour. Somehow, I have managed to see this band four times in as many years; this is not much, but it is a personal record. Out of the four times I have seen them, this was by far the best. They played for about two and a half hours, running through a good chunk of their catalog, both full band and solo projects. Emily Haines of Metric was also there and they performed "Anthem for a 17 Year Old Girl," a fantastic song I had not seen live since the first time I saw them play (a Thursday in the Square 4 years ago). Adding to this was the fact that they were intermittently joined by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse who played a few songs, including Paper Thin Walls (another personal favorite by another band I like but had not listened to in a long time). It was completely unexpected and completely welcomed. Needless to say, it was a fantastic show. 

Really good concerts seem to spur less attentive listening and more me getting lost in my thoughts. My enjoyment of music has never been entirely focused, the stuff I really like enables a wandering train of thoughts that is somewhat refreshing. Furthermore, it also occurred during that moment in the semester when my attention turns away from what I am learning and towards other things (an odd habit considering that this is when I have the most work to do...which I am avoiding by starting a blog). This is an overly prolix way of saying that the concert led me to begin considering why I love this band and what it is about the music that left me so reflective. 

So, being incapable of simple enjoyment, I stood there listening to the music while thinking about the fact that I was really enjoying it, and then considering why and how I was having such a great time. Since the initial giddiness of seeing BSS wore off after the first three times, I was able to give it further consideration. 

BSS's music is spatial in nature, that is to say that it filled the venue and continually felt like a space in and of itself. Most of the time, for me at least, I find that music acts as a focal point within an overall space but is far from an actual space in and of itself. This was the not the case last night. The band's music filled the room to such a degree that it created a space in which my thoughts could inhabit. The music was not the focal point, but the space itself. We (I have decided to implicate the reader in this, welcome aboard) could attribute this in the sheer number of members; after all, four five guitars is fairly difficult to downplay. Their music is lush and takes full advantage of the large scale of their endeavor. Melodies wrap around themselves and stretch out, while the percussion pushes everything forward. The sound is dreamy but not light, there are no gaps or places for gaps really. Perhaps this is how that spatial dimension is achieved. Yet, it becomes hard to tell if I am describing the causes of that dimension or the effects. 

Attempts to describe what I heard aside, there is a certain sincerity and enthusiasm that I have always found so appealing about this band. There is a noticeable warmth to these songs, and perhaps that is why I have never really lost my enthusiasm for them over the last seven years. Furthermore, perhaps it is this added sympathetic quality that makes their music so spatial. These songs seem so well mapped onto my thoughts and feelings that it simply becomes a structural element of them. Seeing it live only amplified this effect, making the concert a fantastic experience. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On the occasion of starting a blog

I spend perhaps too much time thinking about things that would be difficult to discuss in a normal conversation; furthermore, my thoughts are usually so jumbled that they never quite come out right anyway. Thus, in an attempt to create a venue for these thoughts and opinions as well as further contributing to the large echo chamber that is the internet, I have decided to start a blog...