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If Broken Social Scene had faded to the back of your memory since Forgiveness Rock Record (2010), you’re not alone. The band I remember my cool older cousin showing me in the 7th grade had disappeared from my memory before the release of Hug of Thunder this year, metaphorical dust piling up on their dynamic records of romance and heartbreak. But, this year’s album isn’t just good enough to put them back on the map, it may actually be their best yet. And, on stage it’s clear Broken Social Scene know that it’s a privilege to see them live, reunited after their five year absence.

Starting exactly at their set time with the chiming opening chords of “KC Accidental,” they are shockingly present, glowing under the beamed bright lights. Kevin Drew commands the stage charismatically, walking across the stage with a swagger only an artist with stalwart fans can hold. Brendan Canning, standing to the side of center, appears slightly more jaded but still at home on stage, his withered smile betraying his calm and cool attitude at every mic break’s recognition. The rest of the band, arching around the stage, stand strong and proud, never missing a beat between the constant shift of members exiting and entering. It becomes quickly apparent that one is in the presence of legends, humble but self-aware of how much this audience worships them.

However, it was the women who really stole the show, three of which who rotated through to sing the leading vocals on hits like “Protest Song,” “7/4 (Shoreline),” and, in the most epic of fashions, “Anthems of a Seventeen Year Old Girl” for one of their many false-endings towards the end of the night. While the men brought the crowd to their feet repeatedly, the women were able to preserve moments of stillness in the air like I’ve never seen, their treble-y vocals packed with so much intention and pure rock-n-roll badassery (hair flips, power stances and all) that they commandeered the audience’s attention over anything else.

The group works together like a professional big band--far more tight, timely, and clearly well-rehearsed than expected. This is a band that can perform old hits with the freshness of their latest hit. Their outright professional--no bullshit rambling, no wrong chords or false starts--with the jaded cool that makes it seem entirely professional. After a whopping nearly two hour set, I felt ashamed I ever forgot about these Canadian all stars. However, multiple side projects, marriages, and even children later, Broken Social Scene have returned after their five year hiatus stronger than ever.

Photo credit: Norman Wong

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