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Tuesday, December 18

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Review Thu Jun 10 2010

Review: Stars @ Lincoln Hall, 6/9

Midway through forthcoming The Five Ghosts at a sold out Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, Stars singer Torq Campbell acknowledged how awkward it is to play an entire album that a majority of the audience isn't yet familiar with and does not lend itself to the mania that often accompanies the introduction of anything recognizable. (The album's out June 22.) So it was appreciated that Torq had the sense, which he's probably developed over the course of this preview tour, to essentially say, "We know this is weird for you. It's a little weird for us, too. Hang on."

The Five Ghosts does not initially sound like a Stars album. It's more synth-heavy than anything they've done before. It's as if "The Ghost of Genova Heights" was used as a launchpad, as well as perhaps a little Saint Etienne influence. It clearly took time to sink in for some people in the crowd. But Stars is a professional rock band and they've been honing these tunes live. "Wasted Daylight", which Amy Millan seems to think should be a summer jam, was tight and especially vibrant on choruses. The dancey "We Don't Want Your Body", which begins by sounding like something from DFA, was a highlight. When Amy Millan takes over its vocals, it reaches its pinnacle. In fact, nearly every time Millan sang on her own the room was enraptured. However, it's when Torq and Amy sing off each other that Stars really hits their strides. Whether it's in a standard call and response or just switching vocal duties, the two of them have an impeccable sense of the other and how to match up with their intensity. "How Much More", an upbeat surprise on the back-end of The Five Ghosts, was where they shined most together during the first set.

Where their intensity was used most efficiently on Wednesday, though, was in the fan-selected second set. Offsetting the first set of unrecognized new songs were a slew of Stars' best. No longer were songs received with simple polite applause. Now people were raucous, beginning with the first bars of "Your Ex-Lover is Dead." Memories were jogged. Songs about reintroductions to one night stands, falling into old (bad) habits with exes and hanging on for dear life resonated with the crowd. They screamed lyrics they've sung to themselves a hundred times. They became giddy upon hearing that one song they went to Lincoln Hall to hear. (For a lot of people, that seemed to be "Take Me to the Riot.") And that energy flowed onto the stage, back to the band as they rolled out a set heavy on Set Yourself on Fire. "Elevator Love Letter" had a couple extra licks thrown in for good measure and "Ageless Beauty" took on some elements from The Five Ghosts. But overall it was pretty much what people wanted to hear and it's difficult to imagine that anyone who likes Stars would have been disappointed with this best-of. When they return in August for Lollapalooza, they should really be firing on all cylinders.

(Also of note: There was a girl standing in front of me who spent probably one third of the show on her Blackberry complaining about people excited for the Blackhawks. She even tweeted something along the lines of "If you love hockey so much, you shouldn't be here." Seriously, D- to dumping on people who're yelling "Go Hawks." It's perfectly acceptable to enjoy music and sports. And once Amy asked, "So what's the score?", the girl was checking the score. What a hypocrite! She even stuck around afterward when Lincoln Hall made the brilliant decision to lower the 220" screen about 2 minutes before Kane won it.)

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
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