ARTS

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February 24, 2006

Stars come out to shine in energetic Metro show

Stars, in their cosmic wisdom, decided to take a much appreciated detour from the heavens last Friday night to appear at Chicago’s prestigious Metro. The music illustrated that the indie rockers were bright and have a few eons to go before they fade away.

Opening for the Canadian Stars were the Californian quartet the Elected. Their performance left much to be desired. From a purely superficial point of view, lead singer and guitarist Blake Sennett seemed to be emulating an adolescent John Wilkes Booth. His brown vest and pants, coupled with his thin mustache, conveyed a rather peculiar image.

The music from the Elected was rather forgettable and never really connected with the crowd. Their set was short and, although not awful, by no means wonderful. When the Elected bowed and left, Stars finally illuminated the stage.

Stars are led by Broken Social Scene members Torquil Campbell and Amy Milan. Evan Cranley’s bass and Chris Seligman’s keyboards create an original mosaic of sound. Campbell’s lead singing reinvigorated the Metro’s audience with its manic energy.

Their second song, “Set Yourself On Fire,” truly engaged the crowd. With a remarkable light show, the performance ascended to another level. Most of the show was from the band’s most recent effort, also called Set Yourself On Fire. Songs like “Romantic Comedy” and “Life Effect” were poached from the band’s earlier repertoire. Many songs—like “Ageless Beauty,” “One More Night,” and “Reunion”—thrilled the crowd, enabling the musicians to play off its energy.

In his unbelievable enthusiasm, Campbell moved back and forth all over the stage, running into Amy Milan during one song. They laughed and didn’t even miss a beat. Campbell pounded away on his trumpet during many of the songs. By throwing in a violin, Stars approached the sublime. The musical range of Stars cannot be understated, and last Friday that virtuosity was front and center.

In the middle of their set, the band performed a song from “a songwriter from New Jersey.” The song was Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.” It was a nice insight into the playfulness of the group. Thinking back on it, what is it with the Boss and indie rockers from up North? At the Feist Concert I attended in January, Feist and Jason Collett played Springsteen’s “Prove It All Night.” I guess every so often, these Canadians like to show their soft spot for some classic Jersey poetry.

Their last song was “Your Ex-Lover is Dead.” It is a beautiful duet with touching vocals from both Milan and Campbell. They finished the song and promptly left the stage. The audience demanded an encore. The chanting and stomping went on for nearly five minutes before the drummer returned to his drum set in total darkness. He began playing and lit up the Metro with a light positioned carefully around his head.

The band returned with the Elected for the encore. After that, Stars played “Calendar Girl” and “Elevator Love Letter.” The audience sang along to both songs, and when the set finally ended, everyone’s musical thirst was quenched. The beautiful sadness of their music makes them the most erudite of emo.