STARS opening for the DEARS at Lee's Palace, June 16. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 500. Rating: NNN
torquil campbell left nothingto chance at Lee's Palace Saturday night.Opening for the Dears in front of a highly partisan crowd, the singer for Montreal soft pop sensations Stars stripped off his sweater to reveal a homemade I Love The Dears shirt. The crowd loved it, though the music probably would have won them over without the prop.
Where the Dears flattened the capacity crowd with over-the-top dramatics, Stars were far more elusive in their classic pop appeal, mixing 80s electro grooves with swooning art pop, all of it delivered in with deadpan cool.
The hopped-up cover of the Smiths' This Charming Man might well be, as Campbell himself admitted, Stars' best song. Either way, it was the highlight of the group's 60-minute set. After plowing through the tune with an unusual burst of energy, the quintet seemed to lose their way and become almost too obvious.
Stars are fairly blatant in their button-pushing, but their secret is mashing all the keys at once. When it worked Saturday, and the French horn blended with the synth bloops and Amy Milan's harmonies, their electro pop sounds like everyone and no one all at the same time.
Keep it to short, 30-minute bursts and you're in business.