Stars perform at “Ontario’s biggest little music venue.” Here are photos and a review.

[More from Ottawa correspondent Ross MacDonald, – AC]

On Saturday night Montreal indie darlings Stars paid a visit to eastern Ontario’s biggest little music venue, Neat Coffee Shop. And even though it is getting cooler out than the sweltering heat of July, the century-old school house is not air conditioned, which meant that the intimate performance was still hot, in every way.

Stars perform ontario 2023

After opening with the title track off their 2012 album ‘The North’, lead singer Torquil noted: “It’s hot in here, and it reminds me of the movie ‘Footloose’ where Kevin Bacon went to a small town where dancing isn’t allowed.” Then Torquil asked, “is dancing allowed in this small town?”

Stars perform ontario 2023

A little later, Torquil introduced ‘Counting Stars On The Ceiling’ as “the first Stars song written”. And right after that Amy led a sing-along with the crowd to ‘Elevator Love Letter’.

Stars perform ontario 2023

Stars are a prolific alt-rock indie band, and their lyrics and discourse with the audience are a touch punk. They were certainly encouraging everyone supporting their favourite independent bands, just as they did selling out the intimate show at Neat.

Stars perform ontario 2023

Musically there is a beautiful harmony between Chris’s lead guitar with single coil pickups, and Amy’s semi-hollow guitar with humbuckers that gave an underlying twang. And much the same way Amy and Torquil’s harmonious vocals were given a little reverb that packed a huge punch. Adding Chris’s keys and the rhythms of Evan’s bass and Pat’s drums (not overpowered), the century-old schoolhouse was filled with aural bliss.

Stars perform ontario 2023

When Stars played their hit single ‘Take Me To The Riot’ the crowd exploded, danced, and sang along at top volume. And right afterwards most of the band took a little break, while Amy and Chris played a “campfire” version of ‘My Favourite Book’. Toward the end of the song Amy ad-libbed some lyrics to fit with a maturing family life.

Stars perform ontario 2023

Torquil and Amy did a remarkable amount of bouncing around on the confined stage. And their frolicing was contagious with many fans dancing along at the back of the room.

The final song of the main set was the hit single ‘Your Ex-Lover’ where Torquil added “we dedicate this song to fellow Montrealers Justin and Sophie” which led to many chuckles amongst their fans.

Stars perform ontario 2023

One problem when playing the intimate venue at Neat is that there is nowhere for the band to duck out at the end of the main set to take the traditional breather before coming back for an encore. So Stars stayed in place and Amy asked that the fans pretend they ducked off and are awaiting a loud chorus of cheers; of course everyone obliged and so the band broke into their encore, the single ‘Snowy Owl’ from their most recent album ‘From Capelton Hill’.

Stars perform ontario 2023

Over the evening, Stars performed 18 songs to the sold-out crowd, who would have loved to hear them play 180 songs.

Amy Millan – lead vocals, guitar
Torquil Campbell – lead vocals, melodica, keys, percussion
Chris Seligman – keys, backing vocals
Evan Cranley – bass, keys, backing vocals
Pat McGee – drums, percussion
Chris McCarron – lead guitar

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38025 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.