Canadian indie rock supergroup Broken Social Scene rolled through the Paramount in Huntington on Saturday, April 7 for the second-to-last stop on their tour to support their 2017 record “Hug of Thunder.”
The group hit the stage just after 9 p.m., following an hour-long set from The Belle Game, an ethereal indie pop act that the headliner’s frontman, Kevin Drew, has taken under his musical wing. The Belle Game’s wailing vocals and powerful dynamics left a tangible charge before the main event, like the low hum of a turning generator.
Broken Social Scene brought 10 people with them for their Saturday night show. The phenomenon has featured 27 members at one point or another, including musicians from popular Canadian acts like Feist and Stars.
The multitude of artists playing together at the same time gave the band a truly massive sound. Almost no instrument goes unaccompanied in a typical Broken Social Scene song. Their thundering opening number “KC Accidental” featured four guitarists and a three-horn brass section, backed by a roaring, steady bassline from Brendan Canning. The varying instruments gave the band’s wall of sound thickness and body, more than enough to rumble the venue itself.
But all that extra sound never felt wasted or redundant. The band played off each other perfectly, never striking a single dissonant note. That cooperation let the group easily build songs through chords. Songs like “Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries” used both modes interchangeably, switching between droning harmonies and layers of melody four or five instruments deep.
Not only is it an impressive feat for a trio, for a 10-piece band, it’s incredible.
The band’s set mostly drifted between songs from “Hug of Thunder,” and their seminal 2002 hit “You Forgot it in People.” Their latest release is more mellow than their earlier material, and the band deployed its songs periodically to rein in their own energy and save the audience’s eardrums.
Even in their more political moments, playing protest songs like “Protest Song” while treating a never-named President like Lord Voldemort, Drew and company only ever offered love to their American audience from their friends up north.
“We came here because we love your country,” Drew said. “You’ve always treated us so well. We’re here to tell you we love you very much and you’re going to get through this.”
Drew’s confessionals helped keep the band connected to the audience, no small feat for a group that looks like a small army when they go on stage. Rather than lose themselves in their own spectacle, each member drew off the energy from the crowd and their fellow band-mates, which gave the show an almost familial intimacy.
Near the end of the night, towards the back end of the towering “Ibi Dreams of Pavement,” the band invited the audience to participate in their nightly ritual: screaming as loud as they possibly could to let go of the baggage they’ve been carrying.
“Anything you got that you want to let go, we’re going to let it go tonight,” Drew said. “Maybe, just maybe, for 35 seconds, we’re going to be free.”
The music cut off and the crowd errupted for half a minute.
“Take care of yourself,” Drew said. “Be safe, keep fighting the good fight.”
The music stopped, the applause died down and the band walked off stage, rolling out as quickly as they came, like a passing summer’s storm.