Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall, April 12, 2006

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

stellastarr* brought its British power-pop sound to Columbus, OH and turned the Newport Music Hall into a club fresh from Piccadilly. Although stellastarr* hails from New York, the sound it brings to the stage is one of anthem-like rock ballads and stripped down power chords, mixed together with a vocalist that sounds more in the line of Morrisey than a Chris Martin.

 

Although the sound is very British, the lyrics are very American, as vocalist Shawn Christiansen uses his deep, haunting voice to add a third dimension to the already dark lyrics. Touring to support its current release, Harmonies for the Haunted, stellastarr* used those haunted harmonies to fill the Newport with a resonance that does not grace the stage very often. Although only a four-piece band, stellastarr* was able to fill air with an ambience that on one hand would be a great soundtrack to slitting wrists, but was also so beautiful that it would seem the wounds would heal straight up just to hear another few moments of this improbably pretty music.

 

The band burst onto the music scene when it first headed to the SXSW (South by Southwest) Festival in Austin, TX just a few years ago. Without even a label yet, Carson Daily booked the band after their short set in Austin, and from there the band has been whirl-winded into the musical industry without so much as a kiss before consummation, but it hasn't affected the band at all.

 

Harmonies For The Haunted contains 10 very skillfully, thoughtful tracks that mix goth emotion with a pop sound that makes for a very interesting mixture of dark and light. And the crowd making up the Newport was a reflection of that sound. From the outcasts to the sorority girls, stellastarr* has something to offer to everyone, a simple message of sullenness and bitterness mixed with encouraging and hopefulness that coordinates with the dichotomy that almost everyone faces daily.

 

Pulling all this all live is no easy task. But stellastarr*, mixed with a deeply-lit stage show, was able to pull off a live show that not only sounded great, but actually added to this dichotomy and it was almost as people danced in joy, they were feeling sorrow as well.

 

Michael Jurin has done a remarkable job of bringing together a group of art students to were unfamiliar with the instruments they played and helping each member bring their artistic vision and putting that vision into actual music. Not only was stellastarr* able to put its musical vision into a great record, but more importantly, it was able to transfer not just the notes, but the actual ambiance and sensation from the CD to the live performance. Although the crowd was only about 600 or so, stellastarr* used their music and lyrics to give something to each person and provide an outlet of both joy and sorrow.

Michael Jurin
Shawn Christiansen
Amanda Tannen
Arthur Kremer
Amanda Tannen
Shawn Christiansen