‘If everyone treated artists like the 9:30 Club, the world would be great!’ – Amy Milan of Stars
The Stars came out for the 9:30 Club on Monday, April 23rd and shined for the eager audience for an evening of 20 indie pop songs and a bit of dance and rock.
The Stars recently released their eighth album, There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light. They originally formed in Toronto in 1999, but have since relocated to Montreal. One thing I was sort of expecting, but they didn’t address the van attack that happened in Toronto earlier that day, and maybe that’s a good thing. Just music can help heal.
They kicked off the evening with “Losing to You” from Fluorescent Light, with Torquil Campbell (vocals) sporting a trucker hat and all six members spread out on stage. The recorded version of the song is a mellow, slow-burn, but with the full force of the live band behind it, it took on a new life, and was among the highlights of the five songs they played from the new album.
Mid-way through the set they performed “Wanderers”, which they pitched as an Earth Day song, and proved definitively and defiantly to be the highlight from the new album.
The band is Amy Milan (vocals), Torquil and Evan Cranley (who also all participate in the band Broken Social Scene), along with Chris Seligman, Patrick McGee and Chris McCarron. Last year Amy played two nights with Broken Social Scene at the 9:30 Club, but Stars hadn’t performed in DC since 2014.
A few songs in they gave the modest crowd the rocking “One More Night” (where Amy also did a solo guitar jam!) and the upbeat, catchy synth-driven “The Theory of Relativity”, giving a moment for everyone to move along (aka dancing).
At one point Amy and Torquil singled out a young girl and gave her props (and to her parents) as the coolest 9-year old ever (for being there). Torquil was also keen to mention that they were happy to be playing for real, actual Americans. Presumably in reference to the fake bots that drives much of the online discourse, dividing our country.
“Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” with haunting tunes from a melodica (a keyboard harmonica thing!), highlighted both Torquil and Amy’s voices (a common theme, as they traded vocal duties often) over a melody that is both heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time.
“Elevator Love Letter” brought the crowd home with a sing-along, while “Take Me to the Riot” is a song straight from the 1980’s.
They closed the encore with three songs starting with “Real Thing”, where if I’ll be damned, they sounded a lot like fellow Canadians Metric. Amy must have been channeling fellow Broken Social Scene member, Emily Haines, for this one.
The show ended with “Dead Hearts”, dedicated to the ‘greatest DC musician Duke Ellington’, and the epic dance-worthy coda “No One Is Lost”, where we were all looking for friends afterwards.
A fine, fine evening, and let’s hope it doesn’t take another four years for Stars to return to DC!
Losing to You
One More Night
The Theory Of Relativity
Ship to Shore
Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Elevator Love Letter
This Is The Last Time
Take Me to the Riot
No One is Lost