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Stars

Last weekend was a whirlwind of excitement, involving friends from out of town, friends I hadn’t seen for years, an art fair, Trivial Pursuit, pizza, and apple-picking. And, it was capped off on Sunday night with my favorite band, Stars.

It was difficult to drag myself out of my house on a Sunday night. I like my routine, and my Sunday night routine is to cook, watch TV, and get depressed about the fact that the weekend is over. I knew, though, that there was no way I could pass up the chance to see my favorite band.

The last time Stars was in Louisville, I went to their show, and I can safely say that it was the best show I had ever been to. They were performing in a theater most often used for plays, so there was a strange amount of space between the stage and the audience. To get rid of any awkwardness about the distance, the band not only encouraged the audience to stand up and move closer to the stage, but they actually invited us to come onto the stage with them. Eventually, the theater management caught wind of it, and made us get off the stage, because we were standing on an orchestra pit that wasn’t made to withstand that amount of weight, but while it lasted, it was one of the cooler experiences I had ever had.

I think what I loved so much was the feeling that I was a part of the action. I wasn’t just an observer of the band, I was on stage with them.


Taken while I was standing on the stage.

This most recent show was really just about as wonderful as the first one. Stars puts on one of the best shows I have seen. I think it’s notable that, with the exception of set-up time when it’s needed, they go straight from one song to the next, not pausing to give the audience a lot of time to applaud and cheer. There is no self-indulgence on their part. It’s nothing but good music and an incredible amount of energy. Even Amy, one of the lead singers, who is four or five months pregnant, was jumping around the stage like a fucking rockstar (because that’s exactly what she is). They do some cheesy theatrical tricks, like ripping the petals off of a bunch of roses and throwing them into the air, but it’s effective.

I couldn’t help but notice the band’s overarching message during last Sunday’s show. They’re now cleverly putting a lot of emphasis on their audience, rather than themselves. It started with the launch of their new website–You Are Stars. It wasn’t “We Are Stars.” The audience are stars.

During the most recent performance, this message continued, with Torq (the lead singer) thanking everyone for coming out on a Sunday night, for putting the money together to go to the show, and for “making our lives possible.” Torq’s specialty, and really the specialty of the entire band, is earnestness, so it didn’t seem contrived. It felt really nice to be thanked like that, and to be acknowledged as a part of what makes the band successful.

They really encouraged the audience to sing along, and there was a handheld spotlight that Torq would shine on both people in the band when they were doing something notable, and on the audience. Just like the first concert of theirs I went to, the message was clear–we’re all with the band. We’re all Stars.

I couldn’t help but wonder if they had worked with some kind of messaging specialist, or if they had inadvertently come to this message on their own. Whatever the case, it was very effective. They were so effusive in thankful to us–telling us that we one of the best audiences they’d had on the tour, complimenting Louisville, telling us that we seemed like “really nice, slightly neurotic, well-dressed people,” thanking us for our enthusiasm, telling us that audiences like us made the difficulties of life on the road worth it–it energized us. It made the whole concert-going experience feel like it was something really special and out-of-the-ordinary.

As we were leaving, I told my sister that I wondered if they talked to every audience the way they talked to us, or if we were really were as special as they made us feel. She noted that they’re musicians, and that the specialty of musicians is calling up emotions whether or not they’re actually real. She has a good point. And it doesn’t matter. The emotions were real for me. They made me feel special, for making them feel special, and that makes me want to see them live and buy their albums and hang their posters in my house again and again.

(Also, most importantly, their music is incredibly good. This, for one example, is one of my favorite songs of all time.”)

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