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stellastarr*/Every Move a Picture/Joy Wants Eternity
September 17, 2005 - Chop Suey - Seattle, WA
by Katie Sauro

“And now for something completely different…”

While this announcement, made by Shawn Christensen, guitarist and lead singer of stellastarr*, was intended to bridge the gap between the slower, sweetly melodic “Lost in Time,” and the edgier dance-punk song that followed, the statement could very well be made about the band as a whole.

Lost in a shroud of dense hazy fog and dark lighting, the four-piece from New York created layers of rich instrumentals and beautiful harmonies, producing a truly unique sound that blended 80s new wave dance pop and heavy punk-inspired rhythms, with the occasional power ballad thrown in. 

The band, made up of Christensen, guitarist Michael Jurin, bassist/vocalist Amanda Tannen, and a shirtless Arthur Kremer on drums, played several from its self-titled debut, with the first few chords of each and every song garnering screams and cheers from the packed house, especially upbeat tunes like “Jenny.” Amongst all the fan-favorites and classics from their first album, stellastarr* unveiled plenty of new songs from their just-released album,
Harmonies for the Haunted.  After watching the band perform their vast, atmospheric new material, it is clear that it won’t be long before these songs elicit the same response from fans. 

The new songs may not be as poppy as those on the band’s debut, but they are truly powerful and still incredibly energetic and fun, as demonstrated by dynamic frontman Christensen.  His deep, rich vocals turned to screams and high-pitched warbling yelps, as he gyrated and pulled at his hair, even falling to his knees at one point toward the end of one of the new songs.

Fans lapped it all up, especially for the two-song encore that consisted of 80s-influenced pop-punk numbers “Somewhere Across Forever,” and “My Coco,” both from the first album and both obvious crowd favorites, especially the latter, which with a danceable pop rhythm and a fun sing-song refrain, absolutely begged the crowd to jump up and down and sing along.

Opening for stellastarr* were Joy Wants Eternity and Every Move a Picture.  The former is an instrumental band from Seattle that relied on staticky guitar and heavy distortion, resulting in a set in which the songs seemed to all run together.  The crowd wasn’t even sure when to clap.  Every Move a Picture is a Killers-inspired synth-laden band from San Francisco that played fun pop punk. They played an enjoyable set, including a song about country superstar/Bush supporter/annoying a-hole, Toby Keith.  However, the problem with some bands that use synthesizers heavily is that the songs begin to sound similar, and unfortunately, Every Move a Picture falls into this category.

stellastarr* is currently touring the U.S. through October 7th.