Though now living in New York, The Stills are, in some ways, in an (un)enviable position: they hail from Montreal, the latest “buzz city” and home of The Arcade Fire, among others. While undoubtedly proving a useful boost to young, hungry bands, the current popularity of their hometown also means heightened expectations for all who hail from Montreal. Fortunately for The Stills, their live show is proof that some buzz is justified; they bring it, and bring it good.
At a recent show at Seattle’s Crocodile Café, The Stills played songs from both their debut album, “Logic Will Break Your Heart,” and their just-released sophomore effort “Without Feathers.” Their live show is an invigorating display of exuberant rock and roll, with an appropriate balance of sweet harmonies, crunchy guitars, and all around capable musicianship. Indeed, while “Logic Will Break Your Heart” is a sonically strong and well produced album, the live show is where they truly shine. Strutting the stage with enthusiasm, frontmen Tim Fletcher and Dave Hamelin seemed to have an invigorating fervor not always seen in bands. Listeners of independent radio were pleased as The Stills strummed their way through an impressive, given the band’s youth, collection of familiar songs (such as “Lola Stars and Strips” and “Gender Bombs”). Strikingly, while the audience responded best to the recognizable songs, the band ably complemented them with tunes from their new album and with a beautiful song sung in French, “Retour a Vega.”
While certainly lacking the celebrity of The Arcade Fire, the show was full of eminently catchy, hook-filled songs, and The Stills’ apparent joie de vivre came out full force in their thoroughly enjoyable live show. If they can maintain their obvious love of the stage while continuing to produce quality music, The Stills ought to be around for quite some time.