Concert Review – Broken Social Scene, Hannah Georgas

Saturday night plays host to innumerable ways to pass the time. Should you prefer dim lights, cold beverages, and harmonic sounds, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to be than that long-standing Ballroom next to the train tracks in Downtown Buffalo.

This unusually balmy September night, the Town Ballroom was full to the brim with nostalgia for headliners Broken Social Scene, as they toured their seminal 2002 release, You Found It In People.

Newcomer Hannah Georgas warmed up the crowd, opening with a pulsing electronic bass pedal and purple lights. As a respectful cheer went up, hush fell over the crowd to signal the beginning of our shared evening. Elder Millennials in the audience began to sway as the volume and tempo swelled and all attention turned to the stage.

Ms. Georgas’ sound can be best described as electric folk with a thoughtful keyboard. Her energy on stage was welcoming, if a bit shy, as she grew accustomed to the gaze of people who might otherwise be her counterparts at another show.

She described some of the early part of the set with “this is a song about firing somebody”, followed by “a song about losing somebody”. As the stage lights disappeared then brightened, our new friend Hannah said hello and told us a bit about herself. The feeling was of her joining our table. Spotlights swept the crowd to signal we were all there together.

With the cadence of Sylvan Esso set to the beat of a darkening country evening, the two-piece of Ms. Georgas and her guitarist – introduced as FERD (tone intentional) – switched to songs off her new album I’d Be Lying If I Said It Didn’t Matter. “Beautiful View” is a song about perspective.

Now comfortable and prepared to send us off into the second act with our headliners, Hannah laughed out loud because she had tuned her guitar for the wrong song. She shook it off and closed the set with a ditty “about losing a friend to a cult”, leaving us curious for more.

A crowd of people took the stage to the rhythm of “KC Accidental”, pushing a ripple of excitement through the audience. By the time two more members emerged from behind a keyboard, “Stars and Sons” had begun. Like a sweet surprise, Broken Social Scene had taken over and brought us back in time.

With a wry smile, founding member Kevin Drew invited us in as literal trumpets signaled the show had truly begun. The energy in the room was that of fans watching the opening crawl of a familiar movie. That aforementioned smile? – a sort of “get in, loser” moment where the band scanned the crowd. If you were lucky enough to make eye contact, it was electric but comfortable – like meeting your friends at a crowded bar.

Swaying turned to bopping as the audience came alive with the bands’ movement and guitars for “Almost Crimes”. At the end of the song, we were rewarded with a chat break. Kevin told us a few anecdotes from the road. Turns out he was so excited to bring the band to Buffalo, he greeted Boston as such. I wondered quietly how the Bostonians felt about that.

We were directed to “call in the great things we need to continue” heading into the transition to crowd-pleasing songs, opening up the next part of our time together with “Looks Just Like The Sun”. As a more casual fan, I found the sound to be like Minus the Bear with the vocals swapped out for a brass section. A very, very enjoyable thing.

Kevin greeted each of the band members with a loving epitaph: Rachel plays percussion and, apparently, Kevin’s heartstrings; Justin “made their sound (sic)”; and Tyler, the lighting guy, is from Buffalo and very good at his job

We’re gonna party now, it’s Saturday night

“Fire Eye’d Boy” kicked up the tempo, and the movements of the crowd mimicked the heaviness. But sometime around “Shampoo Suicide”, things got emotionally heavy as well. Kevin called in the audience to connect more fully as he shared some pain surrounding the death of his mother. It was sort of a polarizing moment, that sort of speaks to the type of mellow concert experience one might be looking for. Does real life exist at the show, or must everything melt away?

At “Lover’s Spit” our new friend Hannah Georgas came back to the stage – a testament to the band’s ability to include any pal who is willing to jam. To cap our journey through time with old friends (and new), we were treated to “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl”. Who knows where we will wander in the next 20 years, but many paths will bring us back to these songs, and what they meant to us at different times in our lives. I, for one, will not forget it in people.