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Stars | Chewing gum & loyalty

Stars | Chewing gum & loyalty

Stars | Chewing gum & loyalty 1

“Put your hands up if you ever feel afraid!” singer Torquil Campbell of Stars belted out to the Metropolis Theatre in one of their closing songs on Thursday, February 5th.

But the hands were already up. All of them. Every arm was swaying in a shared, giddy vulnerability that said I am proud to feel. The Montreal Stars fans had anticipated this moment because it was the flavour of the entire show.

Heartfelt lights, Torquil Campbell with a melodica and a blow tube… It was a time for feelings.

In the peripheral, young women mouthed the soundtrack to emotional self-discovery and clutched their hearts. Happy boys in pale blue tank tops jumped-danced to sentimentally charged power ballads. You know the ones, where the lights and intense drums are timed perfectly to explode the senses. Makes you really marinate in the message. I looked around at these clean, delighted people and envied them, for a moment.

I was at the show alone because my French room-mate bailed last minute after actually listening to Stars. I remembered Stars from my high-school soundtrack on a burned CD.

Stars have a very eager, committed fan base. They’re lovely, white-toothed, and polite people—but the most enthusiastic and responsive crowd I’ve seen so far in Montreal. I literally saw a dude crying. Basically, they’ve got support. They can take a little slice of criticism:

The Stars concert felt like a wad of bubblegum in my face, paired with a didactic hug. And don’t get me wrong, bubblegum can be great.

But, after a minute, it can loose its initial burst of flavour. It starts to taste repetitive and bland. Some people hold on, chewing it for hours. The packaging can be so convincing and colourful.

That’s what I noticed about the concert. It was repetitive and there was so much packaging–the lighting was choreographed to blast during the chorus and it made every statement seem explosive and evocative.

Though powerful from a sensory standpoint, it masked the candied repetition of the same balled structure over and over. This was met with lyrics that seemed to repeatedly aim at encouraging us to reach for the stars, even though life is crap, because each one of us is a star, and sometimes crap, but we’re all in this together, you know? 

Campbell was the inspired and quirky performer, so naturally there was an assortment of wild leg movements and instruments like a melodica, one of those tiny key-flute pianos. Amy Millan was chill, she had nothing to prove. Her casual, pure voice was the best part of the whole experience.

Maybe I’ve been going to too many shows in dark bars with insecure people. Maybe I’ve forgotten about the realities of indie-pop: genuine displays of enthusiasm, and quality lighting systems.

Or maybe me and Stars just don’t mesh like we did when I was fifteen. But Stars, your true fans really love you. And from what I saw they will chew your gum until it’s dry.

Kate Mada Photography


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