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Stars at the Crescent Ballroom

March 30, 2015

After nearly ten years, Canadian Indie Rock powerhouse Stars came through Phoenix in the midst of their No One Is Lost Tour. On a Sunday night riddled with shows through out Phoenix, Stars managed to bring out enough fans to fill the Crescent Ballroom, a surprise that befuddled and often humbled lead male vocals, Torquil Campbell.

 

I first stumbled upon Stars in 2002 listening their debut album Nightsongs; at that point the album had already a year of support and build behind it, garnering critical acclaim and a trove of underground followers. Fast forward two albums and three years later I finally had my first opportunity to see them live at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe Arizona. They were on tour in support of Death Cab for Cutie during the beginning of Death Cab’s tour for Plans. In retrospect I don’t know how Stars could have lived up to the hype I had built in my head, eagerly waiting in anticipation of seeing them live—ultimately they exceeded this hype beyond my wildest dreams. Sure their set was enough to make me a lifelong fan. Having Amy Milan and Torquil Campbell standing five feet in front of you during Death Cab’s encore, singing the chorus of Transatlanticism, (“I need you soooo much closer… soooo come on… come on,”) surely help drive the proverbial nail in the coffin. I wouldn’t be able to see them again for another 8 years until happenstance brought them through Flagstaff AZ, for a performance with Tegan and Sara in April of 2013. They’re performers that will work tirelessly despite the size of stage or crowd, so seeing them is a definite must.

 

Opening up the night were Wild Moccasins. This young five piece from Houston craft a blend of pop and theatrics into a performance that is both energetic and engaging, making it hard for anyone to stand still. They operate under the mission statement of “[creating,] movement, both physical and emotional, releasing star ward-looking etheria and inward gazing introspection pairing for unpredictable moments of connection.” It’s refreshing to see bands have solid Mission Statements, but this is such a hard idea to qualify… I guess they accomplished this in Phoenix… I mean I danced—although I didn’t feel that introspective. At least not until Stars took the stage.  

 

The chemistry between Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell is near historic measure.s They’re able to create an ambiance and emotional connection with a few simple eye flutters, and of course their deep and powerful lyrics. Their voices entwine into a single breath singing in equal measures to the beauty of love, and the pain it’s broken promises can bring. The years haven’t diminished this quality of Stars, arguably one of the most attractive quality of Stars, it’s only allowed time to strengthen its resolve.

 

Throughout the night Torquil Campbell continued to come back to the fact that they hadn’t performed in Phoenix in nearly ten years. The hiatus to him was long enough to warrant an empty club, but instead they were greeted with an audience the nearly filled the Crescent Ballroom to capacity. This is truly an impressive feat when you have McDowell Mountain Music Festival literally two blocks up the street, Tobacco at the Rhythm Room and a myriad of other places one could be on this idle Sunday night. Their heartfelt appreciation was made apparent when they detoured off their predetermined set list for an extra encore. When you get the extra song you know as an audience you’ve done something right. Hopefully the overwhelming appreciation we all desperately tried to exude will be enough to coerce Stars to coming back through Phoenix sooner than another decad. Regardless, whenever they do come through next, or whenever I’m privileged enough to catch them it will undoubtedly be a beautiful experience.

 

Set list:

From the Night

Fixed

Body

Back Lines

You Keep Coming Up

Last Time

Hold on When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It

Look Away

Dead Hearts

Trap Door

One More Night

Elevator Love Letter

Riot

Your Ex-Lover is Dead

No One Is Lost

Encore:

Midnight Coward

Nothing I Can Do

 

 

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