A night lit up with Stars: Canadian indie pop in San Diego
When it comes to the epitome of narrative indie pop, the Canadian co-ed band, Stars, comes to mind. They are a band that has actually been around for awhile, first recording in 1999, although still relatively unknown to mainstream audiences. Their style can be described as eclectic, with hits that border on sickly sweet love songs (“Do You Want to Die Together?”) to others that chastise the portrayal of desperate, promiscuous girls in a clever way (“We Don’t Want Your Body”), and everything in between. It is not a surprise with the versatility of their music that they have stated a wide ranging amount of influences for the inspiration behind their music, including The Smiths and Outkast.
Arguably one of their most popular and critically acclaimed albums, Set Yourself on Fire, was released in 2006. Their inspiration for the album involved moving back to Canada in the middle of winter, living in one house together, working on music and playing off of each other. The desolation and heart wrenching music that came from the experience is evident with one of their most popular songs that came out of the album, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead.” The sixth album still constitutes their indie pop influences, although with a more synth and rock based instrumentation that has been characteristic of their more recent albums. The same dramatic and narrative lyrics that fans love so much about their style has been the constant thread between all of their albums. The two lead singers, Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, have their own respective side projects as well. Campbell is a member of the band Memphis, and Millan has successfully released two of her own solo albums.
On Wednesday, October 17th at The House of Blues in downtown San Diego, they mainly played songs from their sixth studio album, The North, that was just released in September 2012. From buying tickets on Live Nation, fans were able to acquire a free copy of their newest album, a great idea not only for marketing purposes, but because most of their set list was made up of new material. Their unique and eloquent style was not lost on Wednesday night. With all six members present, the musical nuances so well know on their albums were easily captured in their live set, much to the joy of their fans. They ended with a one song encore, “The 400” from their new album. It was a perfect representation of the evening: understated, simple and sweet, yet profound in the beauty encountered in their music and lyrics. The two opening acts were Chicago-based California Wives and Canadian artist, Diamond Rings.