Late last night, I got a call from a friend with an offer for free admission to yet another KEXP VIP show at the Triple Door.
“Stars is playing,” reported Barney. “Wanna go?”
“Who is Stars? Never heard of ‘em.”
Neither had she.
By 12:30 this afternoon, there was a significant lineup already forming. We got decent seats 2/3 back, sharing a booth with quiet strangers who may have known as little about this band as me and my Canadian friend. DJ Shannon nervously introduced them and they got around to their rocking soon after 1pm.
By the third song, we formulated our assessment of the group: they were band nerds in high school. I’ll call this a double-edged sword. Their musicianship was top-notch and they obviously have been playing together long enough to be this tight. But the flip side is that they kinda take themselves a little too seriously, confining themselves to very small patches of space on stage. It was as if they were in a tightly-packed house party full of invisible people.
This didn’t keep them from performing on various instruments: the male lead monkeyed around with a synth, trumpet and some unidentified mouth organ sorta keyboard thing. The female lead switched between acoustic and electric guitars, in addition to sharing that trumpet and lead vox. (We imagined the lead male was pouting when she did this.) They also felt free enough to babble a bit between songs, introducing them briefly and joking around a bit.
The lead guitarist (“he looks like a too-tall George Harrison!” says Barno) expertly and efficiently commanded a Stratocaster, a Telecaster and a hollow-body six-string during the set, and the bassist had a variety of instruments handed to him by a mysterious arm that waited in the wings. I think the drummer was an extra in “The Secret of my Success” or perhaps “Pretty in Pink” as the Cool Guy at the party who had the Free Drugs. His white-framed wayfarers and pink pants were the bees knees.
I hesitate to jump on this bandwagon, but we agreed that Stars has a Radiohead-esque aura to their music. The also share the same tone as Two Loons for Tea, with a late-80s pop influence. I think I want to hear them in my car to capture the atmosphere of their work, minus their relatively stiff and introverted stage presence.
Stars headlines an all-ages Showbox performance tonight at 8pm with Miracle Fortress. (Not to be confused with Miracle Baby, one of my favorite underrated sensations of the late 90s.)
Also, KEXP is broadcasting this afternoon’s show at 4:30pm. Check out the archives for the whole show. Apparently one of the songs was about f*cking someone to death.