Indie-rock stalwarts Broken Social Scene brought their tour to Chicago's Aragon Ballroom Friday (9/29) supporting their latest album Hug Of Thunder and you'd be hard pressed to tell from their performance that they were supporting a supposed "comeback" album. The band was tight, clearly having a blast and absolutely blew the crowd away with a mix of fan-favorites and a handful of deeper cuts.

Frightened Rabbit, fresh off releasing a new EP (featuring a Julien Baker duet), brought their signature Scot-folk to get the crowd either energized or wildly depressed in advance of BSS taking the stage, and almost everyone in the audience seemed into it. The band's huge stage presence and big sound was a pretty perfect setup for BSS. I didn't catch all of Frabbit's set but from what I heard, they seemed as full of heartbroken energy as ever.

After about 30 minutes of setup and more microphones than I could reasonably count, BSS came out to the chill grooves of the classic "KC Accidental". "7/4 (Shoreline)" was an immediate hit as a followup to the mostly-instrumental intro, and although the band was missing Feist, Amy Millan, and Emily Haines, Ariel Engle was there and she totally crushed it, with occasional help from the girls from The Belle Game (who are on tour with the band, I sadly missed their set).

Launching into a pair of new ones from Hug of Thunder saw the crowd start losing it all over again, proving they weren't just there for "the old stuff" (no matter how many times someone behind me screamed for "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl"). Even as the band started to dig into songs that wouldn't be on most people's "Intro to Broken Social Scene" playlists, the band did a stellar job keeping everyone invested by staging impromptu riff-offs, having Kevin Drew bounce down into the crowd for "Texico Bitches," and playing an absolutely raucous and spiraling version of "It's All Gonna Break."

It was the 48th anniversary of "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies topping the Billboard charts, so Kevin Drew brought out his pal Andy Kim, who co-wrote the song, to perform a somewhat sloppy cover of the tune ("How many people are glad we played that? How many give a shit that we fucked it up?" the band joked after). Then they did "Sister OK" off Andy Kim's 2015 album It's Decided, which he made in collaboration with Kevin Drew.

The band finally did play "Anthems" during their "long encore," followed by "Ibi Dreams of Pavement," and they brought out Forgiveness Rock Record  producer John McEntire for a stellar version of "Meet Me In The Basement." The whole night seemed like the perfect mix of crowd-pleasers and stuff the band really wanted to dive into, and it was clear that even all these years later, Broken Social Scene have a blast playing together.

Pictures of the show are in the gallery above and the setlist is below. BSS' tour hits NYC on Wednesday (10/4) at Brooklyn Steel with The Belle Game opening (tickets). Remaining dates are listed below.


Broken Social Scene - Aragon Ballroom - 9/29/17 Setlist
KC Accidental
7/4 (Shoreline)
Halfway Home
Protest Song
Fire Eye'd Boy
Texico Bitches
Stars and Sons
World Sick
Stay Happy
Hug of Thunder
Sweetest Kill
Almost Crimes
Major Label Debut (Fast)
It's All Gonna Break

Sugar, Sugar (The Archies cover) (with Andy Kim)
Sister Ok (Andy Kim cover)
Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl
Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)
Meet Me in the Basement (with John McEntire)


Broken Social Scene – 2017 Tour Dates
Oct 01 Byham Theater Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 03 The Fillmore Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA
Oct 04 Brooklyn Steel NYC
Oct 05 State Theatre Portland, ME
Oct 06 College Street New Haven, CT
Oct 07 House of Blues Boston Boston, MA
Oct 18 The Palace Theatre Calgary, Canada
Oct 20 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, Canada
Oct 21 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, Canada
Oct 22 Neptune Theatre Seattle, WA
Oct 23 Neptune Theatre Seattle, WA
Oct 24 McMenamins Crystal Ballroom Portland, OR
Oct 26 Fox Theater Oakland, CA
Oct 28 The Wiltern Los Angeles, CA
Nov 03 Air Canada Centre Toronto, Canada
Nov 04 Air Canada Centre Toronto, Canada


review by Zack Baker, photos by James Richards IV


Update: A previous version of this review incorrectly stated that Emily Haines played with BSS at the Chicago show.

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