I hadn’t seen Stars (or “stArs” as they apparently prefer to be designated) in several years, perhaps six or more, and that may have also been the last time I had bought or even listened to a CD. They are likeable enough but I had other reasons for wanting to go to this show. One was to hang out with my friend Nick who (almost) only likes Canadian bands with girl singers (the last time I hung out with him was at Tegan & Sara); the other was to see Said the Whale. I’d actually done some research this year before heading to Austin, determined to see some new bands. I’d downloaded a list of 100 recommended bands from NPR (assembled by former Onion AV Cub editor Stephen Thompson) and listened to it several times. I had a short list of bands that stood out, and Said the Whale was one of those bands. Their ridiculously catchy “Love Less” jumped out at my every time. I missed them in Texas but they were nice enough to come to me, well almost.
The way it looked on the website California band Milo Greene would be playing first, so I was a little confused when the band that started the evening wasn’t the least bit annoying. I’d seen them headline a very crowded show in Madison back in November and had to leave halfway through because, as I explained to the people I was there with, you can only take so many “whoa-oohs.” Once the band playing introduced themselves as Said the Whale I was less confused. Like MG, they have a lot of people who sing, and a cute girl who plays keyboards; it’s a mistake anyone could make. Their short set was enough to make me want to buy the CD though they seemed to be charging Canadian prices, so I decided to wait and get it from my favorite record store.
Once MG took the stage it made a little more sense that they were playing second. They’re apparently popular (which I guess I should have figured out from their Madison appearance). And I think a fair amount of people (all the ones singing along on every song) were probably there for them (though $22.50 seems a little steep just to see an opener). I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t near as annoying as last time. Probably because their set was over before the “whoa-oohs’ got too annoying, but also because they didn’t have to follow the awesome Bahamas this time.
I have three Stars CDs, though like I said I haven't listened to them in years, but I thought I would probably still know a few songs. That number turned out to be one, the immediately recognizable “Your Ex-Lover is Dead.” Not that it mattered really, all their stuff is kinda the same anyway. It’s all catchy, sort of dancey, and a little twee. Like what it would sound like if the musical offspring of Belle & Sebastian and the B52s grew up in Canada. Frontman Torquil Campbell was more flamboyant than I remembered, and sweet voiced co-frontperson Amy Milan more earthy, meanwhile I’m not sure what planet the drummer came from. Their enjoyable set was made even more entertaining by the multiple disco balls that decorated the stage. One disco ball makes me happy, that many, downright delirious.
Said the Whale