Stars and Apostle of Hustle (Monday, March 14th, 2005, 400 Bar,
The atmosphere at the 400 Bar Monday night started out subdued as the
crowd waited for the arrival of Andrew Whiteman (lead guitarist of Broken
Social Scene) and his side project Apostle of Hustle. When I arrived at
the club, people were leaning against the walls looking at their cell
phones/watches as the minutes passed by, quietly sipping their drinks,
or standing at the back of the club with their arms crossed ready to listen
Coming out of the green room, the four members of Apostle of Hustle received a generous ovation from the crowd. Whiteman took his place center stage, grabbed his Fender, and the band went into the opening and title track of their first release, Folkloric Feel. The instrumental song contained rich guitar riffs, trombones, and a bass line that Les Claypool would’ve nodded along too. At times the song sounded an early Built to Spill guitar jam, then it turned into something you might hear on Radio K’s international program on Sunday mornings.
The 10-song set veered from genre to genre, but still perhaps the best way to describe Apostle of Hustle would be “world rock” music. It wasn’t until about the sixth song when, keyboardist Ilse Gudino, stopped playing her keyboard, took a step forward onto a wooden platform and began dancing/stomping. Stomping her shoes against the platform, her dance resembled something out of Riverdance, but without the ridiculous costume. She and the band created a musical dance number before our eyes, and really woke the audience up for the first time all evening.
Stars, a six-piece band from Toronto, came out cheerfully as they waved to the audience and took their positions on stage. Singer Torquil Campbell walked into the spotlight and was nothing but smiles. Singer/guitarist Amy Millan could have been mistaken for Siouxsie Sioux as she wore a black jacket with a black skirt and black fish net stockings. When Campbell grabbed the microphone, he told the audience, “We’re so happy to be in Minneapolis. [Last night] we played at an all ages show in Madison and there was no fuckin’ alcohol.” Campbell then raised his glass, and Stars went into, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead,” the first song off their third release, Set Yourself on Fire. The song opened with some pre-recorded violins and Millan strumming her guitar, but it wasn’t until Campbell’s whisper of a voice echoed through the microphone that the song took on Stars’ signature beautiful melancholic pop sound.
After each song, Campbell and Millan talked to the audience, coming back to their earlier remark about how great a place Minneapolis is. They also mentioned their favorite Twin Citians like Paul Westerberg, the Replacements, Prince and from out of left field (literally) former Minnesota Twins player, Harmon Killebrew.
Some fans may not take pleasure in bands talking to the audience so much. Every so often you hear the jerk that yells, “LESS TALK, MORE ROCK!” but I appreciated the time Stars took with us.
The majority of songs in tonight’s set were from Set Yourself on Fire, which translated spectacularly from the album to the stage. But I did have a problem with Millan’s vocals, though angelic and soothing as they were, for more than half of their 15 songs played it was difficult to hear them over the mix.
For an encore, Stars played two more songs, including a song turned in as a written request by an audience member.
“Next time we play here, bring your parents, Campbell said before Stars left the stage. “I’m sure they’d like our music.”
Jim Brunzell III is at firstname.lastname@example.org