I WAS THERE: Broken Social Scene @ Mercury Lounge, 7.17.08

Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew of BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE

[Photo by Jonny Leather]

By Arye Dworken

No, there was no Feist cameo. While Broken Social Scene played a not-so-surprise show last night at the Mercury Lounge with just the core members in attendance, she never hit the stage for an impromptu “Lover’s Spit.” (And she was apparently in town for a Sesame Street taping!)

But maybe that was for the best. After all, it was Brendan Canning‘s night to bask in the spotlight. The Scene’s co-director was celebrating the release of his first solo record, Something For All Of Us: And as Kevin Drew pointed out, Canning’s been in the music biz for nearly two decades. This is not to suggest that last night’s material focused on his debut–throughout the night, Canning joked that they only knew how to play five songs from his record and so that’s all they played. (“Hit The Wall” rocked. Seriously.)

With whiskey drinks in hand, the band drunk-rocked their way through some new songs boasting a more accessible sound, a Kevin Drew solo song from Spirit If, an Apostle of Hustle song (“National Anthem of Nowhere”) and an impromptu jam titled “We’ll Never Play Madison Square Garden,” a self-criticism on their, ahem, professionalism. There were of course a couple of anthems that made their second album You Forgot It In People a contemporary classic, like “Stars and Sons” and “Cause = Time” but it would have been all right to hear some more. At one point, Drew thanked “Ryan and Anna for featuring our music in the movie Half Nelson” and then broke out into the stellar instrumental “Da Da Dada” from the soundtrack. Was Gosling in fact in the audience? We suspect that it was Ryan Fleck, the writer of the film.

The Canadian collective will perform again this Saturday at the Siren Festival but they will most likely not duplicate the set list. Last night’s atmosphere felt so spontaneous that I’m certain they wouldn’t even remember what they played.