Not that this is really necessary, but, in the interest of full disclosure: I have seen Stars live multiple times, and enjoyed each and every one of those shows immensely. So unless they were going to work really hard to disappoint, there was pretty much zero chance I was not going to have a blast at Union Transfer on Wednesday night. There are a couple of really basic equations that make it work so well.
Amy Millan + Torquil Campbell = the greatest male/female dynamic in music today.
(Party rock + love ballads) – silly pretentiousness = a repertoire full of kick ass tunes.
A rabidly loyal fan base x a band that loves them back equally as much = an immersive experience in every set they play.
Party all the time. That’s the attitude. Not the frat party, beer-cans-to-foreheads attitude. More like best friends that work awesome jobs and then hang out every night after work and have a great time attitude. BFFs and such. Just enough cursing to get a point across, but never crude. Just enough to drink to feel good, but still make it to work on time the next day. Always a lot of dancing, singing, and laughing. 13 years of it. Feels longer, still hard to believe their second album Heart—Stars’ first with Amy as a full time member—is only 11 years old. Everything they do feels fresh, modern, and achingly urgent when it comes to matters of the heart.
The long, drawn out notes of “Ageless Beauty” whisked along the walls and through the hearts of everyone in the crowd. “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It” and it’s epically danceable synth-infused chorus became a battle cry for the evening. The somber tone of “Dead Hearts” brought the arms-around-shoulders sway moment of the night, and if ever a song deserved a lighters-up sing-along, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” is it. Amy is a little shy on the mic, but Torquil never forgets to pepper the evening with loving words for adoring fans.
I may spend a large portion of the year draped in cynicism, bouncing back and forth from punk acts that feel the world is ending, hip-hop acts that feel that society has let them down, and metal bands that may or may not be trying to raise Satan, but at a Stars show, all of that disappears, and the gooey romantic pops up, if only for one wonderful night.