BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE with METRIC, opening for STARS at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (September 28). $10. 416-532-1598 and at Ted's Wrecking Yard (549 College), Saturday (September 29). $6. 416-928-5012. Rating: NNNNN
broken social scene is a band based in chaos. Simple rules like establishing a solid lineup, putting out a record and playing songs from that record at shows have been tossed out the window in favour of a constantly evolving game plan.
The outfit began as a basement recording project steered by Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew that featured a few friends on trombone, vocals and harmonica. Earlier this year, Broken Social Scene released Feel Good Lost, a dreamy, drifting disc of abstract pop and moody movements.
Immediately afterward, the group turned into a musical octopus. Gigs around town featured a shifting lineup including Andrew Whiteman and Leslie Feist singing warm pop songs that had nothing to do with the material released under the Broken Social Scene banner.
Confused? Don't be.
"The reason we called it Broken Social Scene was because we knew that things wouldn't happen the same way each time around," Kevin Drew explains. "The core will always be there, but everything else is up for grabs.
"One of the great privileges about making the record with Brendan was that we were able to move completely away from the record once it was done. This band just seemed to come together out of friendships, and it's a group where no one dictates."
It's an unusual set-up, but one that offers some unique possibilities.
For most bands, the prospect of two back-to-back gigs -- Broken Social Scene play Lee's Palace Friday and Ted's Wrecking Yard Saturday -- would sound like routine, yet it's anything but that for Broken Social Scene.
Two entirely different bands will be playing the shows, performing entirely different material, none of which is on Broken Social Scene's recent Feel Good Lost disc.
"Friday, we're going to be playing some Feist songs," Drew explains. "It's going to be the quintet version of Broken Social Scene, very warm and pleasant.
"Saturday is the 10-person full band monster. When we play, it's almost as if we're at a rehearsal, in front of a room full of people, with different musicians from different backgrounds walking on and off the stage. It sounds like a joke, but there are nine different bands in the Broken Social Scene."
At least two of those will finally be captured on tape this winter, and Drew admits that Broken Social Scene might even begin to bring some consistency to the live format.
"We're going to record two different records in the winter and try to settle down a little bit," Drew laughs. "People in Europe have been interested in bringing us over to play, but each time there's either no band or we're not playing music from the record.
"I can see why someone would get frustrated."