Stars Rock Stage, Downsview Park, Toronto ON, September 7

Stars Rock Stage, Downsview Park, Toronto ON, September 7
Photo: Stephen McGill
Technically speaking, there's nothing wrong with Stars' live performances. Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell's voices sound impeccable when they get going and they know how to play off of each other on stage, while the rest of the band provides a solid backing; sometimes tuning between songs is necessary and sometimes riffing a Rush bass line while it happens is amusing. So it wasn't a lack of professionalism that tarnished the Montreal band's Sunday evening set.

Campy delivery can work perfectly well on a big stage in front of a massive crowd, so it wasn't the overbearing theatricality of the music that made the show hard to watch, but the in-between moments of total cheese that put a damper on things. From declarations of "Fuck Harper!" to giving shout outs to Die Antwoord (who probably don't need Campbell as their hypeman), it all comes off as totally put-on and outshines any real moments of magic in the set. Millan came close to a tender moment, waving goodbye to summer before "Midnight Coward," but Campbell's banter and antics overshadowed any hope for subtlety. The band appropriately opened with "Take Me to the Riot" and delivered other crowd pleasers like "Fixed" and "We Don't Want Your Body," in addition to getting people moving to new single "From The Night."

It was a nice gesture to cover Alvvay's "Archie, Marry Me" in the spirit of Can-con, though it definitely wasn't better than the original, and by the time they closed with "Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It," the mass exodus to catch Death Cab for Cutie's set left the crowd significantly smaller. The fans that stayed seemed to love it, though, jumping in unison to the final number, so maybe Campbell doesn't need me as his hypeman.

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