Review: Stars come out over Rochester

The Canadian indie rock giants kicked off their fall tour with a powerful live show.

Stars frontman Torquil Campbell raised his plastic cup to the crowd with a smirk as he sauntered onto the stage at Rochester’s Water Street Music Hall Wednesday night. Someone needs to find out what was in that cup.

He and accompanying vocalist Amy Millian powered through 26 songs like indie rock veterans. The show marked the beginning of the Canadian band’s fall tour in support of their fifth studio album, The Five Ghosts, and their enthusiasm for the coming months resonated throughout the show. Opening with the eloquent “He Dreams He’s Awake” off that new album, the five-piece band also played favorites from In Our Bedroom After the War, Set Yourself on Fire and Heart.

Campbell and Millian have mastered the call-and-response technique on their albums and it is even more palpable live. Both are members of Broken Social Scene, a collection of 19 Canadian indie-rockers who are based around Toronto. Stars’ music reflects their involvement with other musicians in Broken Social Scene, including Metric songstress Emily Haines, but they have a distinctive sound thanks to Campbell and Millian’s vocal chemistry.

Constantly contorting their bodies towards each other and jumping back around to face the crowd, the rockers sang each song with an admirable intensity. Campbell, sweat soaking through his button-down shirt, smiled as he strained to hit each note. The vein in his forehead looked like it was about to rupture from the effort. He added a little mystery to the show by curiously flashing a small, handheld spotlight into the crowd and at each of his bandmates during the softer songs in the set.

(Photo: Deandra Modica)

Millian, dressed like she just stepped out of an 80’s theme party in black leggings and a gold sequin top with matching heels, belted out each lyric with skill. Hearing the union of their voices live is a thrilling experience that cannot be matched by any of their albums.

Halfway into the show, Campbell pounded his chest and dropped his cup onto the stage. Ice cubes scattered everywhere as the band began playing the energetic “Take Me to the Riot.” They carried this energy into the rest of their set and the frontman even dropped to his knees during “One More Night.”

However, Stars gave the audience just what they wanted when they finally played “Your Ex Lover Is Dead” late in the show. Campbell, a spry 38-year-old, jumped around the stage like a teenager as the band performed the best-received song of the night.

Closing the show with “Changes,” Campbell shouted out “we are stars and so are you!” It’s hard to disagree.

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