Stars With Wild Moccasins Granada Theater, Dallas Friday, April 3, 2015
Stars are a band that's cresting. In fact, maybe they've crested already. It's not a bad thing; it happens to most, or pretty well every, band. And Torquil Campbell, the leader of the Canadian indie rock group, is all too aware of it. When he and his band visited Granada Theater on Friday night, that much was palpable, and he underlined it as they reached the end of their set: "Please don't forget about us," Campbell said, all but pleading with his audience. "We want to do this forever."
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Collectively, we were watching a band who have already peaked do their best to hold on to their audience, while lavishing praise on their ascending opening act. If you look at their changes of venues over the last few years -- popping up at festivals; going from the House of Blues to the Granada -- and their crowd for the night (the bottom half of the Granada was maybe three-quarters full) and you start to realize the "Please don't forget about us" has a deeper meaning.
Stars might still be making albums and, yes, their latest, No One is Lost, didn't get the type of reviews one expects from an album from a band who's constantly getting critical praise. But they are a band that's supposed to still matter and it sort of feels like they don't. Stars are a part of the acclaimed indie class of 2004, one of the bands who hit it big with an album that's considered an indie classic. Since then, they've kept putting out work that people don't just buy, but love. Yet, it felt like they were just trying to hold on when they were on stage.
People danced to the music. Of course they did; it's hard not to dance to Stars' unique mixture of indie rock and baroque pop. But it felt more out of nostalgia then reverence. The audience for bands like Stars are now in their late 20s and early 30s. With that comes responsibility and with responsibility comes the loss of energy. You're not just reminded that it's not 2004 any longer by the band on stage, but by the lack of energy in the crowd.
There are peaks and valleys to every career; Stars are entering a valley, but even with that knowledge, and their newfound responsibilities, many in the crowd gave the band their all. Everyone sang along to the 2007 single "Take Me to the Riot" and cheers for "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" were near-deafening, an impressive feat for a crowd of its size. Everything culminated in a spirited encore that featured Stars co-lead singer and guitarist Amy Milan shredding away on her guitar. Not going to lie, that was rather unexpected.
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Walking out of the Granada I ran into a trio of young ladies who could be considered Stars super fans. They're decked out in finery, with references to the band's songs. I've got to admit, I never expected Stars cos-play, but these three pulled it off. One comments that she has multiple tattoos of the band's song lyrics. That's how much the band means to some, and that's why the band won't be forgotten, at least by their dearest fans. In the end we may never again see Stars reach the peak of Set Yourself On Fire again, but no matter what, they'll always be perfectly cromulent, and no one is going to forget about them anytime soon.
Opening band Wild Moccasins, however, is a band on the rise. The Houston group has been popping up around DFW since at least 2012, and like their fellow Houstonians the Suffers, they're poised to breakout big time in 2015. Their stage show is a rollicking 30 minutes of limitless energy and danceable music. It's infectious, it's exciting, and to quote Stars' Campbell, you better "buy their fucking record." Let the race to be the first promoter in the area to solidify a relationship with this group begin. And please, lord, let this group keep busting out the random Billy Idol covers.
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