By Aisha Sharipzhan
As the ’70s and ’80s have been making a comeback in movies and television, music also isn’t safe from the comeback of disco dancing and glam metal. Canadian indie band Stars gave the people what they wanted by traveling back in time Monday night with their unique mix of disco, rock and indie-pop music at the 9:30 Club.
Opening for the band was fellow Canadian artist Dan Mangan who seduced the crowd with his Canadian charm. With just his organic voice and a guitar, Mangan captivated the crowd enough to have them singing the background vocals to his folk-style songs.
Washington resident Bob Riddle, 50, described Mangan as a cross between Don McLean and Bob Dylan. “I can’t believe he remembers all those lyrics … he’s like telling short stories out there,” Riddle said about Mangan’s music.
A stark contrast to Mangan’s stripped-down presence, Stars lit up the stage with purple lights and filled the air with dreamy synths as they opened with “Losing to You,” featuring the harmonized vocals of lead singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan.
Riddle, a longtime Stars fan, described the band’s music by comparing them to English electronic band Depeche Mode. “The worst Stars song is still better than the best Depeche Mode song,” Riddle said. “They have a sort of retro vibe going and they’re really good at it. They’re not afraid to experiment.”
With eight albums to choose from for their setlist, Stars’ displayed their musical experimentations, going from modern indie pop to 80’s rock to 70’s disco while also throwing in some unconventional instruments. After the whimsical love song “Wanderers,” Campbell brought out the melodica — a keyboard variation of a harmonica that is played by blowing air into a mouthpiece — for the song “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.”
The various tones of Stars’ music reflects the diverse generations among their fans. Halfway through the show, Campbell invited 9-year-old Evelyn Staub on stage, asking her “what’s it like to be the coolest 9-year-old in Washington?” The avid concert-goer responded with a small voice, “Well, I’m happy,” setting off cheers in the crowd. Campbell offered Staub a bench to sit on during the rest of the show and as she left the stage, he shouted to a riled-up crowd, “Give it up for Evelyn! Future rockstar, possible president of the United States!”
Staub’s parents, Mike, 49, and Whitney, 43, of Silver Spring, said they take their daughter to concerts with them often, but this was the first time she was invited on stage. According to Evelyn, she was given the honor due to being spotted at the front line of the audience. “[My mom] was buying stuff and she was like ‘Evelyn, come back,’ and I was like ‘No, I want to be in the front row,’ so I didn’t listen,” she explained with a laugh.
As the band danced through the haze, disco ball lights and synth vibrations, Stars’ energetic stage presence had audience members grooving like it was 1979. Claire Bridgeo, 29, was impressed by the band’s energy.
“I’ve known them for a long time and I really like seeing them live,” the Washington resident said. “I’m amazed that they’ve been touring for so long and they still bring a lot of energy … they hype people up and it just feels good.”
Having enthralled the audience, Stars had everyone raising their fists in solidarity during their closing song “No One Is Lost” — “Put your hands up cause everybody dies/Put your hands up if you know you’re gonna lose/Put your hands up if you ever feel afraid.”
Featured Photo Credit: The band Stars performs in front of an energetic crowd. (Aisha Sharipzhan/Bloc Reporter)
Aisha Sharipzhan is a senior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.