So, I went to see Stars at the Black Cat Friday night. I only saw it because whoever was in charge of the Black Cat that night took pity on me and another photographer who ended up stranded after someone who was supposed to submit a press list didn't, uhm...submit a press list. (Funnily, as she and I waited in Food For Thought for a final verdict of our fate that evening, we both admitted to leaving for the venue that night with the sinking suspicion that all was not well.) Amanda, who had confirmed my press pass as recently as Wednesday, was justifiably miffed. Ahh. Shit happens, you know? And sometimes, it's really easy to forget the shit that happens when, say, promoters know that daddy would like to have, well...let's say, a fresh pair of Strokes tickets maybe?
Anyway. Saw Stars. Enjoyed the company yet again of the enjoyable Sommer Mathis. We stupidly chose to stand and watch next to the biggest douchebag in the venue, but it largely didn't matter. I don't like to inject myself and my feelings into the reviews I do for DCist (read my Stars review, here)--preferring to try to relate whether the show was good or not based upon what actually happened versus how I feel about what happened. But, because I like bold pronouncements as much as the next guy, I'll simply say this:
Stars are simply the best band in the world right now. It's been a long time since I've seen an band play and just get struck again and again with these "Eureka!" moments. Stars are a complete package on record--great songwriting, elegant playing, they do something much different from what's hot in the marketplace and they do it so well that you wonder why the market isn't flooded with bands doing what they do. Live, they are even better. They're practically perfect. So many bands half-ass their way around their instruments. These guys can actually fucking play them. So many singers yowling--these guys can actually fucking sing. Two of them! Not just work the mic with "rockstar personality", but actually perform as accomplished vocalists do.
Stars are much better than your band. Sorry.
It's really raised the bar on the whole year. I'll literally pee my own pants if I see a show this year better than the one I saw Friday night. Will it be you, New Pornographers? The gauntlet has been thrown down.
SIDE NOTE: I recently revisited my review of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, where I encountered a comment I never noticed before.
"Again, though, you make a broad statement about them based on seeing them once. If you go to a Cardinals game and Albert Pujuls goes 0 for 4 does that mean he doesn't know how to hit? No it means on that particular night he didn't perform up to your standards."
In the first place, I made a specific statement based upon my experience seeing more live rock shows that I could possibly count. The idea that I have to see a band seven or eight times before I have the right to comment is a rusty and tired canard. I flat out reject that out of hand. If that were the case, then CYHSY can bloody well pay me for the privilege of my attendance the first seven times. I have their record. I know full well what they can do. End of story.
But more to the point, as a lifelong Cardinals fan, that's a bad analogy. Albert Pujols performance is subject to the efforts of another party actively trying to thwart his efforts. I promise you, if the reason for CYHSY's poor performance at the Black Cat was because, say...the Shout Out Louds bum-rushed the stage and started kicking at their shins and unplugging the instruments, I would have made note of it.
Anyway, CYHSY sold out the 930 Club, so everybody wins, right? It's all subject to argument: and let's face it--for music fans, the arguing is half the fun. I know that, so bring some smack if the spirit moves you.