I initially thought about doing a blog post about my experience in shooting Stars and Grimes separately when it hit me like a double clothesline straight out of the Hart Dungeon in Calgary: Canadian bands know how to throw a party.
I was excited getting the assignment to shoot Stars (Yes, I will run that phrase to the ground!) from Glenn of Philmusic.com because I immediately anticipated the whole affair to be one lovefest of a shindig. Their songs remind me of Broken Social Scene, which it was no surprise considering, as I learned later on, their inclusion to that entire universe.
I don’t consider it a bad thing. The world needs more bands like BSS anyway. It’s what pop music should be. Stars brought both the uplifting and soul-crushing in their set in their Manila performance. The singalongs sweetly crushed some souls, especially in songs like “Dead Hearts” and “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”, while more upbeat and danceable songs like “We Don’t Want Your Body” and radio-present “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It” lets you shake off the tears, albeit furtively when confronted with emotional rollercoasters such as “Midnight Coward”.
Yet again, it was the adoring crowd that made the equation for a memorable concert complete. Without them singing and dancing along, music would only seep through the speakers and is as good as dead air. Veteran event photographer Stephen Lavoie (who I finally shook hands with that night after just nodding at him in previous times we crossed paths in concert media pits) noted that like in the Death Cab for Cutie concert a while back, the Stars concert production wasn’t particularly fussy about the lights, quite possibly because it wasn’t a priority. The priority was a great-sounding set and the crowd’s enjoyment. For this photoset, the lights didn’t make the photos–the energy of both the band and the crowd did. View the rest of the set here.
Almost the same can be said for Grimes’ performance in Hard Rock Cafe a few weeks after, only this one employed a better lighting set up than the former. I guess that’s a requirement if you are expecting a dance party. And it was. Well, most of the time. I caught some of members of the audience just staring at the wonder that is Claire Boucher instead of surrendering to her brand of ‘indietronica’ (arrrgh, labels). Nonetheless, it was a fun crowd, may they be dancers or humans (to borrow from a song from The Killers). So fun, in fact, that the crowd sang the chorus the Enya classic “Orinoco Flow” when the in-house PA played the song as they were waiting for Ms. Boucher to go on stage. I know. Irony and all that. I twist the tip of my imaginary moustache.
Boucher’s star power is undeniable mere seconds after arriving on stage. She was a ball of energy both behind and away from her equipment whatsits and thingamajiggies. Behind them, she’s a top spinning in one place, but focused as if she’s figuring out how to jump from a rampaging stagecoach to another. Once the rhythm and the beats were elegantly laid down, Boucher’s a cherub as soon as she breathes on the mic, a frenetic pixie as she dances and prances and romances the crowd.
She didn’t bother doing that faux exit before doing the encore, telling fans to the effect that she doesn’t see the need to do such a thing for such a crowd (I can’t really hear her and understand much what she said because of all the screams and applause and the distracting charm of her speaking voice). Now, that’s proper fan service. I still remember how the crowd exploded to a frenzy when the drum track of “Genesis” dropped.