Broken Social Scene / Stars Lee's Palace, Toronto ON - June 13, 2003

While lesser bands might have folded under the intense pressure and lofty expectations, Broken Social Scene's sold-out two-night Toronto engagement not only confirmed that they are every bit as magical live as on disc, but also proved them deserving of their (unofficial) status as national treasures. Former Paper Bag Records label-mates Stars opened with a set of gorgeous, dreamy pop songs culled from their achingly beautiful sophomore LP, Heart. Donning a tie and sport jacket, front-man Torquil Campbell seemed remarkably at ease as he joked with the crowd, presumably feeding off the love teeming from the packed house. Beginning as a modest sextet, Broken Social Scene morphed into a variety of configurations during their spellbinding 90-minute set. The smorgasbord of instruments included violin, brass, banjo, keys, bass, drums and guitars (four, in fact, during "Cause = Time"). Early on, singer/guitarist Leslie Feist's infectious rock'n'roll spirit inspired the hipster audience to partake in some unabashed hand-clapping. For their encore, Broken Social Scene pulled out a cover of Sloan's "The Other Man" in a heart-warming show of Canadian fraternity, followed by crowd favourite "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl," during which Stars' Amy Millan added her angelic vocals in lieu of Metric's Emily Haines. Fellow Stars, most notably a trombone-wielding Evan Cranley, also joined the love-in. By the end of their set, a total of 11 musicians crammed the tiny stage for an uplifting and glorious finale. This time, it's okay to believe the hype.