Posted in music | pictures on June 7, 2010

words by Rachel Kowal, photos by Andrew St. Clair

Stars

Between his DJ gig to kick off the evening and the two separate sets he played with Stars, frontman Torquil Campbell was on stage for nearly three hours, but he didn't seem to tire. As people filtered in the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night (6/4), Campbell, billed as "Dead Child Star", selected a number of 80s tunes, delivered an impromptu lecture on Hall and Oates, and occasionally sung along to the songs he chose when the mood struck him.

Following his DJ set, Campbell took a brief respite back stage, and the anticipation in the crowd grew. There was no opening band - at least not in the conventional sense. Instead, Stars played two sets. For the first, they showcased their upcoming album in its entirety. In typical Stars fashion, The Five Ghosts is an album full of somber but danceable numbers for the brokenhearted. Things like shadows, ghosts, dead leaves, and uneasy souls haunt their lyrics. Just take a look at the ghoulish song titles below to get a taste of the pervading tone, and picture Stars performing in front of two gigantic banners depicting what appeared to be dancing spectres covered in shrouds.

But their songs are not tunes tailor-made for the dead and heartless. As on their previous albums, sexual tension permeates their music and really brings it to life. Though it would be hard to top their sexy (and disturbing) hit "One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead)," seeing Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan sing the line, "I don't want your body" back and forth to each other with their faces mere inches apart was pretty hot.

Throughout the evening, Campbell referred to Brooklyn with a touch of nostalgia. Before they built up a reputation for themselves in Montreal, the band allegedly spent some time in New York. "You know," Campbell said, "Stars started here in Williamsburg in 1997... but walking around today, I thought I was on acid. Things are so different. But we're honored to be part of the community again."

The audience, equally appreciative, listened to the new songs with rapt attention, prompting Millan to say, "You guys are doing great. Look at you. Who says the whole country has ADD? You don't!"

Following the conclusion of The Five Ghosts' eleven songs, Campbell expressed his delight that their experiment had worked, and the group took a short break while some Motown played in the background.

By the time Stars returned, white roses had been wrapped around the mic stands and placed throughout the stage. "Give it up for the opening band! Stars!" Campbell exclaimed playfully as he took to the stage for the third time of the evening.

From the opening notes on the melodica of "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," (from 2005's Set Yourself on Fire), the energy level in the room spiked. Drummer Pat McGee conducted the crowd in an early sing-a-long, and Campbell threw handfuls of white rose petals into the crowd as the song concluded.

The songs for the second set were determined entirely based on online votes before the show from fans, which made for a pretty dynamic show. Apparently, New York was the only city that had voted on "A Thread Cut with a Carving Knife," which appropriately features a "hot and sultry" afternoon in June (and of course, an ending love affair).

Between the additional songs about love and death and the constant scattering of roses, it was quite a romantic evening. And yes, the Canadian five-piece totally closed on "One More Night," which was pretty hot ... even if the song is "literally about fucking someone to death" as Campbell unabashedly reminded the crowd. By the time they concluded their second set, only the rose adorning Millan's mic stand remained on stage. The rest were thrown into the crowd throughout the evening and either thrived in the hands of fans or lied abandoned on the floor, beneath feet and empty plastic cups.

The Music Hall of Williamsburg show was the first of two NYC concerts Stars performed over the weekend (part of a larger tour). The next was Saturday night at Le Poisson Rouge. More pictures and the setlist from Music Hall, below...

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Set list
1st set - The entirety of The Five Ghosts (officially out 6/22)

Dead Hearts
Wasted Daylight
I Died So I Could Haunt You
Fixed
We Don't Want Your Body
He Dreams He's Awake
Changes
The Passenger
The Last Song Ever Written
How Much More
Winter Bones

2nd set
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Take Me to the Riot
Set Yourself on Fire
A Thread Cut with a Carving Knife
Look Up
Elevator Love Letter
Ageless Beauty
Heart

Encore
On Peak Hill
One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead)

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Comments (30)

Such a good show! A Thread Cut with a Carving Knife may have been my fault - I may have voted for it 20 times or so...it was wondeful!

Posted by anon | June 7, 2010 3:25 PM

people would not shut the fuck up during this show.

the lpr show was 10000000000x better.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 3:27 PM

well this is an assbiter to read....since the LPR show was a grand total of 50 minutes long. but i guess the MHOW crowd got the new album...played through. blessing? or curse? do tell!

good god though, i felt robbed at LPR! the crowd was great, wish they coulda played more.

can't really blame the band since they always cram a midnight show (DJ???? in this case) at that venue. sucky. mebbe they shoulda came on stage earlier. oh well, they said they'd be back soon.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 3:33 PM

dayam amy milan got even fatter and uglier

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 3:41 PM

"well this is an assbiter to read....since the LPR show was a grand total of 50 minutes long. but i guess the MHOW crowd got the new album...played through. blessing? or curse? do tell!"

i could've sworn they played for nearly 2 hours at lpr. they were curfew'd, yes, but they got in two full sets...

also, yes, the crowd at lpr was great. extremely respectful / quiet during the set. unlike mhow. sound was much better at lpr too.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 3:47 PM

WTF were you smoking 3:33. The LPR set they played the new album in its entirety before coming out to play another set. They initially came out at 8:50 and finished close to 9:30 to come out again.

All in all, they played close to an hour and a half if not longer.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 3:48 PM

Is that Amy Millan or Meat Loaf? Seriously, she's put on weight.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 3:48 PM

yeah, this is a pretty unattractive band...

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 3:54 PM

too raucous for me

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 4:05 PM

how did the new album sound/go over (to those who weren't talking and actually listening)?

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 4:19 PM

new album went over pretty well. there were definitely some talkers in the crowd, but it wasn't too distracting. a few people were overdressed and decided to make it a party for themselves. agh.

i had a great time, though.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 4:26 PM

LPR was fabulous. Torq complimented the crowd on listening patiently to a full album of "shit you never heard before", then reminisced about "starting out in NY" (playing Kenny's Castaways). The second set was slightly different from MHOW but I'm not sure how... I missed the encores, but One More Night was definitely played before any encore, and the penultimate song was "All the Umbrellas" (strange choice).

Posted by david z | June 7, 2010 4:29 PM

I saw Stars play at Northsix one of the first shows they had there... I think it was first week it was open.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 4:37 PM

Does anybody have the LPR setlist?

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 4:38 PM

ooops, it's me, 3:30p...clearly smoking the Sour Dog had me showing up LATE...so yah i missed the first set. D'OH!!!!

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 4:41 PM

Ehhh, Amy Millan looks fat... I mean, fuck off and get lives. Seriously now, did she sound good? Was the band good? Isn't that what matters? Have a little bit of sensitivity, you know, in case she happens to read this.

Posted by Brian | June 7, 2010 4:49 PM

kim deal looks fat too. that doesn't prevent all of you from giving the pixies $100 whenever they come around.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 5:08 PM

this was a fucking amazing show.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 5:26 PM

So this is that band for people who think Broken Social Scene are too edgy, right? What a joke.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 5:52 PM

for people who care:
sound at MHOW was so-so (as usual), but the new album still sounded good. there were quite a few highlights other than "we don't want your body" (which was amazing) and I'm definitely more excited for the album then I was before.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 6:34 PM

For someone who never heard of Stars before, I thought they were fantastic. My brother-in-law called me at 4PM that day with an extra ticket. There were a bunch of "talkers" behind us too... what's wrong with people? Anyway the sound was great the band was great and the comments above about the appearances of band members are superfluous! Who cares. I went to hear a band I'd never heard of and was pretty much blown away.

Posted by Wade Gradia | June 7, 2010 7:55 PM

For someone who never heard of Stars before, I thought they were fantastic. My brother-in-law called me at 4PM that day with an extra ticket. There were a bunch of "talkers" behind us too... what's wrong with people? Anyway the sound was great the band was great and the comments above about the appearances of band members are superfluous! Who cares. I went to hear a band I'd never heard of and was pretty much blown away.

Posted by Wade Gradia | June 7, 2010 8:01 PM

they should start calling you 'Ryan Muir' from now on. Great photos.

Posted by Chris | June 7, 2010 11:01 PM

11:01 - Are you kidding? Ryan Muir would have included more wide shots, and less shitty black and whites. Try again.

Posted by Anonymous | June 7, 2010 11:43 PM

these photos are better than ryan's...clearly.

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2010 8:18 AM

"better than " - so stupid.
Any shots from LPR show ?

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2010 8:39 AM

Does anyone have the setlist from LPR?

Posted by Anonymous | June 9, 2010 1:25 AM

LPR setlist (I may have the order of the 2nd set slightly off):

All of The Five Ghosts, in order.

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Take Me To The Riot
Set Yourself On Fire
A Thread Cut With A Carving Knife
Elevator Love Letter
Look Up
Midnight Coward
One More Night

The Aspidistra Flies
Calendar Girl

Posted by Anonymous | June 9, 2010 6:18 PM

Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie were really good albums. Got them when they came out, still throw them on at times and think they're great. It saddens me when I hear bands from that era when I was a teenager and hear their new stuff and it's so clear how they've lost it, they sound desperate to recapture a sound/magic that they haven't had in 15 years (holy shit).... And then I realize that is not unlike a lot of us.

Posted by منتديات | January 22, 2011 7:51 AM

you guys are misogynistic pigs. typical that a front woman of a band needs to be "thin" in your tiny, feeble minds. her talent means nothing?? that is seriously what you took the time to comment on?

Posted by jess | February 3, 2011 6:01 PM

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