Although they’ve been around since 2000, Stars is still going strong. The Canadian band came to Chicago’s The Metro on Saturday and played a sold-out show that was well worth the admission price.
Said the Whale
The night’s first act, indie rock band Said the Whale, wasn’t bad. They just didn’t fit the sound of the other two groups. The 5-member Vancouver band played an upbeat set that would have been perfect for a day at the beach. I wasn’t struck by anything particularly original, although I was impressed by the keyboardist’ ability to play the piano and sing for an hour while smiling the entire time. Check them out for an entertaining listen, but not much more.
Milo Greene was the surprise of the night. Weaving complex memories that put in mind Explosion in the Sky, the instrumental-heavy group belted a cover of Sufjan Steven’s “Chicago” that may have been better than the original, alongside original compositions that will have me going back next time they’re in the city. Haunting and ethereal, their sound sticks with you long after their set is over.
I expected the headliner Stars to be good, and, aside from a few moments when Torquil Campbell’s microphone was inadvertently switched off, they were. Campbell and lead female vocalist Amy Millan (also of Broken Social Scene) have distinctive, story-telling voices that sound just as good (actually, better) live as they do recorded.
What I didn’t expect was for Stars to be absolutely, mind-blowingly awesome. The music was good, yes, but the performers were great. Every single one of them threw themselves completely into what bordered on a two-hour show. They performed with an intensity I have rarely seen in a live performance and it made for an amazing concert. Even if you aren’t that in to indie pop with lyrics waxing cynical on love and sex, The Stars are worth it.
Of particular note was the closing number, which Campbell sang as an acoustic solo. Many Stars songs almost spoken lyrics, but Campbell proved his range and left the audience hypnotized with the power of his voice.