Does everyone know Broken Social Scene? They are a killer indie-rock band/music collective from the 2000s. According to Spotify, their most popular song is “Anthems For a Seventeen Year-Old Girl.” Which—like a lot of bands—is ironic because (while it’s a great song) it’s not representative of their sound. My favorite track is “7/4 (Shoreline).”
They broke through and were peers with Arcade Fire, though Win Butler and Co. would transcend to an entirely different stratosphere. Also pretty cool, Feist got her start in Broken Social Scene.
Anyway, if you’re a Broken Social Scene fan this story is for you, and if not—they’re dope! Go check them out (I recommend starting with 2003’s You Forgot It In People).
Alright, on to the story!
This particular tale takes place in late Summer 2010. One random night I met up with my boy Andrew at Childs Park in Northampton, MA. Why did we rende at a park? I’m honestly not sure. (I think maybe I had gone there a few hours earlier to song write and so Andrew just met me there? Who knows!) Anyway, I’m strumming my guitar in this dark park and Andrew turns up. Andrew is one of my favorite people. He’s an audio engineer and in the decade since this story, has gone on to found and operate an amazing recording studio in Western, MA.
We had plans to hang that night but didn’t know what we were gonna do. We threw out going to the bars, songwriting in the park, maybe even bowling? We knew Broken Social Scene was playing at the Calvin Theater that night and we were big fans. But we didn’t get our act together and didn’t have tickets. Planning is a lot harder in your early 20s.
We eventually concluded that out of fandom solidarity, we owed it to BSS to at least drive over to the Calvin and check out the scene (no pun intended). Maybe someone’s scalping? Maybe there are still tickets available? Maybe it’s a bust and we go drinking downtown? But let’s at least go.
The Calvin is right in the center of town and the entrance is snug to the street. There’s a big parking lot for the theater and all the surrounding businesses behind the building. We found a spot and started walking to the front of the building. As we’re walking, we notice that huddled by the backdoor to the theater is a group of good-looking, young, longhaired, musician types; a few keeping a beat on shakers and tambos, and one guy strumming a Paul Reed Smith guitar.
Emboldened by a cocktail of naiveté, youthful bravado, and honestly not caring that much, I yelled across the parking lot to the huddled groups, “Hey! Do you guys have tickets to the show?!”
A beat later a monotone, “no” echoed back to us.
“Word. Thanks.” I respond.
We walk maybe another 20 paces toward the front entrance of the theater and out of the calm Summer air we hear, “But, we could open this door and you guys could just walk in.”
Andrew and I look at each other in disbelief. Mmmm what? Is this real? I’m not sure if we even responded verbally. I think we just scurried frantically over to the pack of musicians in an effort to accept their offer before they could change their mind.
I love Broken Social Scene, but I didn’t know what these people looked like. This is 2010 remember! I’m not looking at them on social media every day. So even as we stepped into the musicians’ circle, I was unsure if this was the band or the opener.
Andrew did, however. He knew the man strumming the PRS guitar was the band’s founder/singer/guitarist Kevin Drew and the circle was comprised of other band members. He turned white as a ghost. Still naive and confused I throw out, “man, we’re huge fans! Thank you so much.” (I thought even if this was the opening band, still a good thing to say, right?) Andrew added unintelligible mumbles in his dazed state. “Thanks guys,” Kevin responded.
They opened the backdoor and motioned for us to go inside. Next thing we knew we were standing in the green room with the rest of the band, their manager, and their tech crew! “Hi guys,” I somehow forced out in a state of disbelief that had finally caught up to me.
We passed through the green room and were now parallel to the stage off on the wing. We could see the crowd dancing and grooving to the music and could feel the sweat from the opener just a few feet away.
During the break before Broken Social Scene’s set, we opened this door on the far right-wing of the stage, walked down a short flight of steps, and were spit out in the front row of the theater.
The show was fantastic. We were on cloud 9.
I told you at the beginning of the story that my favorite BSS song is “7/4 (Shoreline),” they start playing it and I’m screaming “Yeah!!!” Jumping around, grabbing Andrew, just vibin’. About 90 seconds in, Kevin stops playing, raises his arms in the air, and says, “Hey everyone stop, stop, wait.” The band looks confused and grinds the song to a halt like a car slamming on the brakes.
Kevin points to two guys in the audience. “Hey, you two. Yeah, you guys. You’re fighting. (Apparently, they were shoving each other.) Broken Social Scene doesn’t believe in violence. Cut it out. We’re not going to play until you two resolve this.” He declared and literally crossed his arms as if to confirm everyone in that theater was now waiting on them.
After a moment, they apologized to one another and everyone erupted in applause. “Okay good, with that resolved, what should we do?”
“Start the song over!” Someone yelled out.
“Should we?” He asked the crowd and everyone cheered. So they count it off, kick it in, and I got to hear my favorite song twice! (Well 1 1/2 times, but still!)
The final thing I’ll say is that towards the end of the show Kevin proclaimed into the mic, “we love hugs!” and with that he took off his guitar, jumped into the crowd, and just starts hugging…everyone.
When he got to me, I grabbed his shoulders and yelled, “Dude! I’m the guy you let in the back! Thank you so much man! This has been amazing!”
“Oh word man, glad it worked out.” He responded as we embraced.
Yeah me too. Me too.