Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Here We Go Magic and Broken Social Scene Played Terminal 5 January 18

The Here We Go Magic/Broken Social Scene show at Terminal 5 turned out to be one of those surprisingly intimate musical moments that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, where you just know you’ve seen something unique and are grateful to have been there for it. And this despite a crowd that was fairly lackluster.

I have a hypothesis: there is a direct correlation between ticket prices and crowd energy.  The higher the prices, the lamer the crowd. Case in point: Tickets for this show were $40. Two twenty-somethings near me debated the merits of getting or not getting a tattoo. They decided that if you HAD to get one, better to get it in a place no one could see at a job interview. Understand the logic, but this was a rock concert people! Try to be interesting.

Anywayyy, Brooklyn locals Here We Go Magic did their best to pump up the anemic crowd with their psychadelic pop sounds. But not even bassist Jen Turner, who slithered around her instrument like a limber grassnake, could evoke more than a mid-level enthusiasm. And no one seemed to notice that keyboardist and vocalist Kristina Lieberson appeared to have on a red snuggie at the start of the show. Epic coolness. Their last song of the just over half-hour set, “Tunnelvision” from their first album, was a completely off the hook jam.

The crowd perked up when Broken Social Scene hit the stage. (Maybe it was the YouTube cameras?) The Toronto-based collective put on a mesmerizing and intimate performance that was captured via live YouTube broadcast. Core members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning led the giant cast in a set that lasted more than two hours and thankfully featured more off-album jams than their NYC show at Central Park this summer.  It was probably one of the Top 10 shows I’ve seen ever.

They kicked things off with “World Sick”, with Drew preparing the crowd for a lengthy run, saying, “One down, 20 to go.” In fact, the band ticked off more than 20, with time to spare. A grateful showman, Drew kept a new-agey, self-help dialogue going with the audience “You came to see us and we came to see you,” he said. “We are a self-help band. Let us take all your troubles,” he continued, building an intimate connection with the crowd that culminated in him politely engaging in a Christlike crowd-surf towards the end of the set.

It was this generosity of spirit that made it such an amazing experience. Even in a fairly large space like Terminal 5, Drew was able to draw the audience in. He repeatedly thanked everyone for being there, and the band seemed genuinely psyched to be playing together and entertaining a crowd that finally began to perk up (although, several folks who had secured front row vantages didn’t even bob their heads. If you’re in the front row and you won’t even bounce along to the music, you should be ejected. Just saying.)

When they finished the YouTube taping, the show was officially over, but no one wanted it to end, least of all the band, so they kept playing, bringing out Here We Go Magic to join them in a soulful cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Ooo Baby Baby”. Still gunning after that, the jester Brandon still wanted to play one more. So they did.

By any measure, be it length of show, number of songs played, number of musicians, heart, amazing music, whatever, these guys surpassed all expectations and offered up an amazing night I won’t forget.

I have a few folks to thank for being able to enjoy this performance. Half of the Occasional Empty Nesters won tickets to BSS, but had to bail at the last minute so told me to pick up at the box office. This GOT ME TO THE VENUE.  Thanks OEN. However, the staff at Terminal 5, the most-hated music venue, wouldn’t let me take the tickets without OEN’s ID.  Epic Fail.  Some kind strangers offered me an extra ticket for free when they saw me flailing at the Will Call window. This got me INTO THE SHOW.  Thanks kind strangers.  : )

Photos by Shanda Boyett from my iPhone below (Because T5, the most hated music venue, doesn’t allow big cameras.  Boo.)  Copyright 2011.

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