If The Cure’s Robert Smith and Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal conceived a child, their spawn would be Stellastarr’s lead singer Shawn Christensen.
He would have inherited their voices, but where he’d get his Abercrombie and Fitch good looks would remain a mystery (where’s the black eyeliner and teased goth perm?).
His deep and at times, wailing, voice resembled singers from that colorful decade most people try hard to forget-the 80s. Stellastarr will never be able to avoid comparison to The Cure or other bands from the 80s but their sound definitely has potential for evolution.
Stellastarr played an energetic show Oct. 4 at the TLA.
They opened with a haunting, melodic sonata called, “Lost in Time.” It’s a song that sticks in your mind like a piece of wet macaroni. The piano notes struck deep, like a blade of melodic fury, and drummer Arthur Kremer burst through with an explosion of fast beats.
The bassist, Amanda Tannen, who looked more like a sorority sister than a former art-school geek, sang background vocals. Her long, blonde ponytail swung around her face as she plucked her bass guitar.
Tannen’s spooky vocals added to the ghostly sound of “The Diver,” but at times seemed superfluous to the rest of the music. Tannen’s bass tended to drown out the rest of Stellastarr’s sound, making it difficult to detect any kind of melody to many songs. “Sweet Troubled Soul” was executed well, with its thumping, almost poppy, beat.
Their stage presence was fantastic, although the unnecessary and annoying lightshow prohibited the audience from actually seeing the band.
When it was possible to see their faces, it somehow added to the whole dynamic of their show. Seeing their silhouettes over and over again became tiresome.
Their music, while not terribly original, was inspired and captivating. Christensen’s voice is what defines Stellastarr’s sound; it’s a voice that is familiar with both anguish and love.
At several points during the performance, Christensen looked tormented as he sang. He may have literally sung his heart out. Watch where you step next time you enter the TLA.
Stellastarr is well on their way to becoming the next big indie band ( sounds like an oxymoron, right?).
Ellen Minsavage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.