The line wrapped around the parking garage and wending up to the venue had begun to move by the time I got there. I stopped on the way in to say hello to the security guys standing under the glare of kleig lights before heading up to will call, pausing to look up at the exterior of the new hall lit up under the harsh beams.
Though not finished, the brand new Austin Music Hall sparkled like a giant concrete and glass diamond under the lights, as an endless centipede of people worked their way into its front doors. Security people, staffers, and maybe a few construction workers buzzed about the outside like worker bees returning to the hive.
Making my way to will call, it was obvious that Direct Events had pulled out all stops to have extra staffing as I didn't recognize more than half the people working. I even had to show ID to get my photo pass, which is rare since most of the ticketing folk know me by sight now. Still I was glad to see that the passes had made it to will call already since I was a bit early, and since the show was way sold out it would be problematic to get in otherwise.
I'll admit knowing little of Stars before the show on the 28th. Seeing that they had sold-out four nights at the Phoenix was what piqued my interest. I'd also missed their set at V-Fest in September and this was my chance for redemption
As I arrived there was only a short line but, by the time Stars hit the stage at 10:00pm, the club was packed shoulder to shoulder.
The new guy John Hargraft was handling photo duties for the night and I didn't envy him having to work his way to the front. There was no barrier in front of the stage and thus no photo pit. This was Guerrilla shooting - snap and run, begging forgiveness from the die-hards in front.
Torquil Campbell of Stars - more photos... photo by John Hargraft - staff photographer
The stage dressing reminded me of The Killers; all amps drums and keys covered in flowers. Stars entered the stage to deafening applause and opened with "Take me to the Riot". As each song unfolded I just just fell more in love with Stars. The beautiful call-response vocals of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan simply astound. Amy's delicate vocals juxtaposed with her oft raging guitar work created a thrilling counterpoint. "The Ghost of Genova Heights" was even more otherworldly performed on a darkened stage with Campbell in a white light adorned jacket.
You could also feel Torquil's honest respect and adoration for the crowd. "It just keeps getting better at the Phoenix", "You're making my mother very happy", "you bought the tickets, it's a Fu*kin' dream". There was also an honest 'F' you to a highschool coach and a song (about people having sex with him until he dies of a heart-attack) dedicated to him.
Once a little indie band, Stars are poised on the edge of greatness and Toronto was more than happy to provide them a four night send off.