Saturday, February 2, 2008
There are many reasons to love STAR. Here are some of my favorites:
1. STAR songs are edgy, noisy and thought-provoking, yet full of pop hooks.
2. STAR songs are short and sweet, never outstaying their welcome or venturing into the land of pretentiousness.
3. STAR songs have awesome titles such as Flesh Eating Mothers and Cock Swan.
4. STAR has a seemingly endless arsenal of material, and the majority of their setlists consist of songs that have not yet been released.
All of these STAR factors were in high supply at Chicago's Hideout Friday night when the band delivered its brand of noisy pop as first in a triple bill that also included Fun Club and The Prairie Cartel.
STAR is a band perfect for the studio - the drum beats are programmed, the vocals are almost otherworldly and the guitar is fuzzy and distorted. It always seems to be a challenge to pull off this kind of setup live, but as I watched the show I was happy to learn that STAR does so quite effectively.
As soon as vocalist Shannon Roberts, guitarist Scott Cortez and bassist/percussionist Theodore Beck took to the stage and kicked into Like Flies on Sherbert - an Alex Chilton song that does not appear on their debut and so far only CD, Devastator - you couldn't help but be completely captivated. Not many bands would be so bold as to open with a tune that virtually nobody in the audience knows, and go on to pull it off so beautifully. It sounded fantastic, and fans can only hope the band includes it on their upcoming second CD, Violence Against STAR.
While the entire set emphasized songs not yet released, Devastator material was not completely absent. STAR included four of that disc's highlights, including Pure Gold Reason, Champion of Love, Various Gun Designs and Liars in Love.
Among the other unreleased songs - most or all of which I assume will appear on Violence Against STAR - Flesh Eating Mothers was my favorite. What other band could produce such an infectious, melodic little number (at least loosely) based on a campy 80s B-movie in which mothers contract a venereal disease that causes them to eat their children?
The stomping Rock Hard was another clever take on a Chilton tune that was highly memorable on first listen.
STAR's 13-song set seemed to fly by, but how could it not when it was made up of material that rarely hit the three minute mark? That's OK, because the band's brief, loud stay on stage only left me wanting more - something that doesn't happen as often as it should at live shows.
Like Flies on Sherbert (Alex Chilton cover)
Pure Gold Reason
Champion of Love
Various Gun Designs
Rock Hard (Alex Chilton cover)
Flesh Eating Mothers
I Am a Scientist (Guided By Voices cover)
Violence Against STAR
Liars in Love