Live Review: Stars, Slowdown notes…

Category: Blog — @ 6:52 pm November 5, 2007

Nearly 400 diehard Stars fans got more than their money’s worth last night at Slowdown — a set that lasted nearly two hours. The whole time, you could tell that Torquil Campbell and the rest of the band were thrilled to be there. In fact, they told the crowd so, over and over throughout their set, saying such glowing things like Slowdown was a gem “built on music.” All night, band members would make their way to the microphones and say how proud they were to be there. It was kind of sweet and charming.

The band came on at around 10:15 to a stage adorned with bouquets of flowers and abstract artwork on easels. It almost looked like a funeral, except for the computer-controlled strobes that blared from behind the stage. Talk about your theatrics, at one point Torq strolled out in a jacket covered in lights, looking like a walking Christmas tree. Glam!

I’m not a long-time fan of Stars, having only discovered them with this last album. Obviously they have a strong back-catalog judging by what I heard last night. I had a couple people tell me to check out Set Yourself on Fire, which I’ll definitely do after hearing some of the lush songs performed last night. Gorgeous stuff. The six-piece included a guitarist, bass, drummer, keyboard player, Torq on a Casio-style keyboard, trumpet and vocals and Amy Millan on guitar and vocals. It was the best-sounding set I’ve heard on Slowdown’s big stage (and that includes Cursive, Two Gallants and The Rentals). They finished at around 11:15, then went on to play an encore that lasted nearly 45 minutes. I didn’t get out of there until midnight.

A few notes about Slowdown while I’m thinking of it. First, they’ve installed a huge, white Habitrail-looking piece of artwork that hangs from the ceiling over the main floor (see homepage pic). The installation is from Brooklyn artist Jason Peters who currently is working at The Bemis. I’m told that the tube actually lights up in different colors. For some technical reason, it didn’t light up last night, but it was still impressive and fit right in with Slowdown’s overall aesthetic. It’s not a permanent feature. Proprietors Nansel and Kulbel tell me that it’ll only hang in the rafters for about a month, but that we can expect to see more artist installations in the future.

The other bit of news is the new capacity rating for Slowdown. The city originally gave the room a capacity of around 470. The new number is a whopping 615. That’s a huge jump based solely on having the inspectors come out and take another walk through the venue. There’s no question that the new number will have a positive impact on the size/stature of bands that One Percent and Slowdown can book for the venue.

Tonight at O’Leaver’s, Athens band Casper and the Cookies with Pat Fleming. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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