Bonnaroo Artist Focus: Broken Social Scene

With Bonnaroo tickets on sale and the Manchester festival’s June 7-10 dates around the corner, it might be a little daunting trying to decide which of the 100+ artists will give you the most bang for your buck. In this column, we’ll focus on a different artist every week to give you a sense of who they are and who will be worth checking out once summer rolls around.

Canadian rock group Broken Social Scene is less an established band than it is a constantly evolving and rotating group of adult-alternative musicians that seem to come and go, being pulled from their respective bands and projects to collaborate on carefully constructed rock music that never seems to lack novelty and amusement. While many individuals have participated in the group’s output over the years, including Amy Millan from Stars and established singer-songwriter, Leslie Feist, Broken Social Scene has always revolved around its two founders, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, who provide a central voice to the diverse songwriting efforts of all members involved.

Boasting of as much as 18 members at one time, Broken Social Scene’s sound has typically gone in the direction of densely layered post-rock that seems to ebb and flow in intensity over the course of their album’s runtimes. On hit records such as “Forgiveness Rock Record,” the band can transition from grandiose arrangements on “World Sick” and “Texico Bitches” to flowing, pensive breaks on “Sweetest Kill.”

Broken Social Scene’s latest album, 2017’s “Hug of Thunder,” displays a finely-tuned collective group that, despite having been at it for upwards of 15 years, can still manage to lay out a cohesive project filled with diverse, energetic tracks. Upbeat songs like “Halfway Home,” and “Protest Song” are balanced out by more subdued, emotionally resonant tracks including the titular “Hug of Thunder” and “Please Take Me With You.”

It’s difficult to say whether Broken Social Scene will choose to pull from their extensive and highly cherished back-catalog in their set at Bonnaroo, or if they will instead focus on their newest release, which probably fits this iteration of the group best, but either way would be perfectly acceptable, as the seemingly-immortal group seems just as eager to continue their line of remarkable arrangements. What we can be sure of though is that when the abundant cast of musicians takes the stage, their grand, refined sound will surely be a spectacle to witness.

See Broken Social Scene’s performance on KEXP radio below.

Tickets and information can be found on the Bonnaroo website.

To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email

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