Stars Mod Club Theatre, Toronto ON - December 18 and 19
Published Jan 01, 2006It's always more than a bit disconcerting to watch your favourite band(s) get successful. All indie-rock snobbery aside, there is an element of "good grief, where did all these people come from?" shock upon stepping into a sold-out show when you can recall the half-empty gig they played at a venue half the size not all that long ago. Well, if anyone's going to go supernova surely it should be Montreal/Toronto swoonsters Stars, and they delivered in a big way over their two-night Mod Club stand. With the beautiful hipster kids packed in elbow-to-elbow, the quintet excavated the edge beneath their seemingly pristine electro-pop, Torquil Campbell's sardonic sneer playing perfectly off guitar goddess Amy Millan's cherubic tones. To recreate the lush sound of their latest album, Set Yourself on Fire, the band had a small string and brass section in tow for the Toronto dates, but their delicate embellishment was all but drowned out for the early part of the first show due to a sludgy sound mix that thankfully cleared up as the set progressed. All the better to hear Campbell's arch between-song banter dressed to impress in suit and tie, he poked fun at local high schools, preached love as a political force and in his own inimitable way proved why he's the most interesting front-man in Canada. Maybe it was partly due to the fact that the sound mix had improved exponentially for the following evening's early all-ages show, but the second time around was even better, with the band alternating nicely between material from Fire and last year's much-loved Heart. By the time they closed both shows with the anthemic "Don't Be Afraid to Sing," all on stage appeared just as awed, touched and excited as those looking up at them from the crowd with blissful grins plastered on their faces. After all, it's probably not surprising that making people fall in love with them is what these hopeless romantics do best.