Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
Starbenders, the American glam rock band hailing from Atlanta, has been carving its own niche in the music scene with a fusion of glam, punk, and alternative rock.
The band, formed in 2014, consists of Kim Shelter on vocals, Kriss Tokaji on guitar, Aaron Lecesne on bass, and Emily Moon on drums. Their eclectic sound draws inspiration from classic rock acts like David Bowie and Queen, blended with a modern edge that resonates with a diverse audience.
The band defy easy categorisation, seamlessly weaving through glam rock, punk, and alternative influences. Their music is a rebellious cocktail, marrying catchy melodies with edgy, raw energy. The band’s discography includes notable releases like “Heavy Petting” (2016), “Japanese Rooms” (2017), and “Love Potions” (2020), and the latest offering “Take Back the Night” (2023), all helping to serve up their creativity and, ultimately, showcase their evolution and versatility.
The appeal of Starbenders extends to a broad spectrum of music enthusiasts. Fans of classic rock find comfort in the band’s nostalgic nods, while those seeking something fresh and daring appreciate their contemporary twists. The varied looks on show by the collective in for tonight’s show help to reinforce that statement.
The stage is set for an intimate encounter with Starbenders, akin to the atmospheric charm of Peter Kay’s Smokey Phoenix Nights Club. The blue neon lights bathed the stage, smoke softened the lighting creating an otherworldly ambiance that perfectly complemented the band’s cosmic aesthetic.
The crowd, a mix of eclectic souls, cheered with an infectious energy as the opening chords of “Holy Mother” reverberated through the venue. The set kicking off with a bang, and immediately establishing the band’s magnetic stage presence.
Kim Shelter, the enigmatic frontwoman, took command of the microphone, asking the audience if there were any “witches” in the room before launching into the spellbinding “Bitches Be Witches.” Shelter’s stage banter and commanding presence kept the audience engaged, creating an electric atmosphere that intensified with each song.
“Marianne” showcased a different side of Starbenders, with Shelter pausing to emphasize the importance of tuning the guitar, she demanded silence! highlighting the band’s commitment to delivering a flawless performance. The crowd reciprocated with hushed silence, apart from a few souls at the bar, a testament to the band’s ability to captivate even in moments of stillness.
“Looking for Veins,” an instrumental interlude, seamlessly continued the sonic journey, leading into the anthemic “We’re Not OK.” The crowd, now fully immersed in the vibe, swayed and rocked to the pulsating rhythm.
“Cover Me,” a track from their album “Love Potions,” added a sultry edge to the set. Released in 2020, the album served as a sonic elixir, blending seduction with rebellion.
“Seven White Horses” emerged as a crowd-pleaser, its galloping rhythm and infectious energy resonating with fans of all ages. The dynamic interplay between Shelter’s vocals, Tokaji’s guitar riffs, Lecesne’s bass, and Moon’s drums created a sonic spectacle that transcended the confines of the stage.
“PUSH,” “Cherry Wine,” and another instrumental interlude, “Dark Spell,” showcased the band’s musical prowess and ability to seamlessly transition between sonic landscapes. Shelter’s singing style, characterized by a blend of theatricality and raw emotion, shone through in “The Game,” bringing a theatrical element to the performance.
“Sex,” featuring Kriss Tokaji, injected a dose of adrenaline into the set, with duelling vocals and electrifying guitar solos. The penultimate tune left the audience buzzing with excitement.
The set concluded with “If You Need It,” a hauntingly beautiful track that explores themes of longing and desire. Shelter’s emotive delivery and the atmospheric instrumentals left an indelible mark, concluding the night on a poignant note.
Throughout the night the venue pulsated with positive energy, a testament to the band’s ability to connect with its audience. Happy fans, their faces lit by the neon glow, revelled in the sonic journey crafted by Starbenders. The seamless blend of classic and contemporary elements resonating with them in a shared appreciation for the band’s musical alchemy.
The sound quality was impeccable, with each instrument cutting through the mix with precision. The collaboration of Shelter’s vocals, Tokaji’s intricate guitar work, Lecesne’s pulsating basslines, and Moon’s dynamic drumming created a sonic tapestry that enveloped the venue.
Starbenders, with their interstellar sound and magnetic stage presence, delivered a memorable night of rock and rebellion.
The gig was a testament to the band’s evolution and ability to craft a sonic experience that transcends genre boundaries.
From the cosmic vibes of “Holy Mother” to the haunting allure of “If You Need It,” Starbenders proved that they are more than a band—they are cosmic architects of sound, weaving tales of love, rebellion, and everything in between.
The gig left the audience exhilarated, and seemingly eager to embark on future sonic adventures with Starbenders at the helm. Yet another great school night spent in the arms of Live Music!