Friday, May 2, 2008

Stars Of The Lid & Christopher Willits At The Museum Of Fine Arts

Stars Of The Lid

Christopher Willits

Stars Of The Lid make some of the most majestic music around. This is their first North American tour in 6 years and they just so happened to grace us in Boston at the Museum Of Fine Arts. Not surprisingly, they played to a sold out crowd, the seats filled with all types of people. Everyone from old fogies to 20-something hipsters to prepubescent youngsters, the entire audience was there to revel in what is the epitome of musical beauty.

San Francisco native Christopher Willits performed before Stars came on, and he did not disappoint. He plays mostly soft mannered music entirely with his guitar. He has hordes of pedals all hooked up to his Apple laptop, allowing himself to create clicky soundscapes that make you wonder if it's really a guitar thats making those noises. His music is a beautiful counterpart to Stars Of The Lid's and he is certainly a worthy tour mate.

Although Stars is traditionally a duo comprised of Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie (both of whom have wonderful records apart from Stars, Brian performing under his own name and Adam performing as The Dead Texan with Christina Vantzou), this tour has them sharing the stage with a string trio (whose names I can't seem to find anywhere, although they are most likely the same women who toured with them in Europe). This combination made for a simultaneously serene and epic sound that hardly compares to any of their studio recordings. Instead of listening to their music at home, the experience is completely transformed when heard in a live setting, especially in a place with such wonderful acoustics as the MFA's Remis Auditorium.

The live music was accompanied by video projections from artist and friend Luke Savisky. The images he used were a perfect companion to the sounds of The Lid: soft, smooth, and slowly transforming abstractions. During the last song they performed (I believe it was Even If You're Never Awake), Christopher Willits came out and performed with the rest of the band. At first, his signature sounds weren't very noticeable, but then his contributions became clear and it was a perfect addition to the song. The song was much more immense and epic than Stars Of The Lid have ever recorded before. I have never heard them get so loud. It was a grand and glorious climax that I'm sure many Stars fans have yet to hear from this usually quiet band.

After the song was over, they left for a mere 10 or 15 seconds, only to return and play an alternate version of Tippy's Demise as an encore. Of course, it was well received, as everything they performed was, and afterwards they received a much deserved standing ovation. I'm still in somewhat of a trance from the night before, as I know that was truly a once in a lifetime experience. They're still on tour with a handful of dates left in the US before they head over the the UK where they have a few more shows planned.

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