When indie-rock broke out of Canada a decade-plus ago, Stars were the new romantics of the ‘Canadian Invasion,’ all flowers and big songs about dark relationships. Their sizable sound suited their upward trajectory to big venues like Terminal 5 (QRO live review there), with North Americans looking to embrace something in the sad days of George W. Bush and Stephen Harper. But those times are long past, with now’s romantic kids going either soft & sad or big, shiny, pop, and Stars played three nights at the much more intimate (read: smaller) Rough Trade NYC (QRO venue review), Thursday-to-Saturday, November 16th-18th – where neither they nor their fans shrank.
The third and final performance was naturally the biggest of the three, being not only the last but also Saturday night. Indeed, this show was a show for boys to bring their girls to, or even more so, for a girl’s night out. If you want to see a lady unabashedly into an act, Stars is where to see such, from the three-nighters up front to classy ones at the back (near the bar…). Stars also didn’t skimp on their light show in the smaller space.
The tour was behind this year’s great There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light (QRO review), and began with its “Losing You”. The unabashed in its own right “Fluorescent Light”, with its oh-so-Stars chorus line, “Come out with me tonight / No one falls in love under fluorescent light,” was a shining early number. It was notable for being so early in the set, not being held to the end, but this was a night for long-term fans (though some of its energy was lost on the slower following number, Light’s “Privilege”).
There were a lot of long-term fans, singer Amy Millan even asking how many had been with them since the start of the twenty-first century. Of course there were sing-alongs to earlier hits like “Wasted Daylight”, “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” (formerly the most Stars line ever), and “Take Me To the Riot”. Not only did the band bring flowers, but also did fans (to whom the wonderfully eighties “We Called It Love” was dedicated to).
While Millan joked about bring her new child on tour (and how Stars fans made it easy), singer Torquil Campbell was more forthright. “The fascists aren’t afraid of your tweets.” “Start a band and overthrow the U.S. government – it’s not that hard…” He was effusive in his thanks for the crowd & his group, for all those who invest in art. In a less serious moment, Campbell fell over during the big, rapturous moment of “Trap Door”, losing his glasses but bouncing back up.
Stars might be at the point in their career where they’re not the new romantic act for all the young hopefully ladies, but rather the old romantic favorite for the wise & wonderful women out there.