Published Jun 21, 2010The Broken Social Scene-curated, almost-annual Toronto Island Concert promised an idyllic locale, a solid slate of old and new indie stars, and more lines than a Tony Montana party. Despite the queues for ferries, entry, food, water, merch, washrooms, and beer — tickets and pints — the fete was ostensibly about the onstage line-up, which delivered plenty of beards, countless professions of love for Pavement and an ageless front-man.
Regardless of the unpredicted hot-as-balls weather, the ethereal Beach House kept things tranquil, effectively rendering their disco diamond backdrop superfluous (it's hard to dance to gorgeously gloomy keys) but helping to keep a seemingly endless beer line civil. Entirely enchanting renditions of "Take Care" and "Zebra" led to en masse swooning.
Things got considerably louder with Seattle's Band of Horses. While their latest record is a hit-and-miss affair, the hirsute crew judiciously mined their back catalogue for singalong fodder. Older tracks, "Is There a Ghost" and "Ode to LRC" fared particularly well, though epic closer, "Funeral," with its swelling melody, was the highlight of the set.
Altruistically taking the penultimate slot, Broken Social Scene trotted out half the musicians in Toronto (i.e., Feist, Sebastien Grainger, Emily Haines, etc.) for their typical — and still infectiously joyful — drop-in session. Notwithstanding the guest stars and a heaping of horns and strings, the band remain a guitar-first team.
The six-string orchestra relied heavily upon building strums, extended jams, crashing melodies, and Kevin Drew's earnest, Toronto-related banter (yay the Horseshoe, boo the G20). Newer cuts "World Sick," "Texico Bitches" and "Art House Director" were sonically huge — even more so than on disc — and played nicely with throwbacks "Fire Eye'd Boy" and the cringingly appropriate finale, "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)" (get it?).
And then indie rock heroes Pavement arrived. Stephen Malkmus doesn't age; the Pavement front-man clearly has a rotting portrait of himself stashed somewhere. He and his post-retirement cohorts ran through a taster platter of old faves, strutting breathily on "Spit on a Stranger" and spryly jaunting through "In the Mouth of the Desert," as well as offering up basically every other classic Pavement tune. At turns raucous and wry, it was a best-of show that drew the faithful to the front of the stage, and best of all, it finally killed most of the line-ups.