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Concert Review: Stardeath and White Dwarfs (Austin/Denton, 3/12-3/13)

March 23, 2010

I’ll freely admit to the fact that I haven’t listened to any Stardeath and White Dwarfs other than the tracks they provided for The Flaming Lips‘ recent retake of Dark Side of the Moon, so seeing them at the Austin Music Hall and at the Big NX35 Saturday Show a couple of weeks ago was really the first time I’d listened to any of their solo work.  That being said, I’ve read quite a bit about the band and was pretty excited to see them perform live twice in a row.

Touring in support of the Lips (and with well-publicized connections to the legendary band), Stardeath is on the road promoting their 2009 full-length debut album The Birth, an experimental and atmospheric venture into psychedelic rock.  Both of their fairly short sets began with covers of Black Sabbath’s loving ode to pot “Sweet Leaf”, before moving on to songs from The Birth like “The Sea is on Fire,” and “Age of the Freak.”  Both nights, Stardeath ended their run with a slowed-down and wigged-out version of Madonna’s “Borderline” that they re-worked with assistance from The Flaming Lips.

As for the “reviewing” part of this review, I have to admit that at the Austin Music Hall, the crowd didn’t really seem to be into Stardeath.  I suspect a large part of that might have been because we were also being visually assaulted with strobes and flashing lights for pretty much their entire show.  Every time I looked around me, people were looking down or shielding their eyes from the lights.  Seriously, those lights were harshing my buzz; it made paying attention to the music harder than it should have been.

At NX35, the crowd hadn’t filled completely out by the time Stardeath hit the stage, but being that it was outdoors, the light show came out a bit better than the night before.

While Stardeath is a relatively young band and it sometimes shows on stage, there’s no denying their musicianship.  Their show might be one of the rare instances where I enjoyed the extended jams more than the actual songs.  Having had the benefit of working with and around The Flaming Lips for so long certainly has its advantages, and when Stardeath starts rocking out, they really know what they’re doing.

Stardeath and White Dwarfs is one of those bands to watch; they’re currently covering a territory where very few other new bands reside, and they’re already performing their tunes well.  As they grow with the experience of touring, I have no doubt that they’ll be an amazing band.

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