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Music Review: Starcrawler

Matt Ellis Matt Ellis Music Review: StarcrawlerPhotos by Matt Ellis.
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Every now and then, my network of spies informs me of bands that I just have to check out — bands sitting on the cusp of greatness but still flying slightly under the radar, yet somehow tasked with carrying the great weight as the new saviors of rock and roll. The hyperbole is always strong, and often unjustified, but not so much with Starcrawler. They didn’t look too interested in saving anything, but wow, they were good.

Hailing from Los Angeles, and with members still in or just out of high school, Starcrawler consist of gangly singer Arrow de Wilde, overly-caffeinated-Jack-White-junior guitarist Henri Cash, and slightly subdued but solid backing support from bassist Tim Franco and drummer Austin Smith.

For a band so young, you perhaps wouldn’t expect to hear the noises they make. As with last year’s breakout future rock-stars Greta Van Fleet, Starcrawler pull their influences from the past, sounding like a roughed-up mix of sloppy 80s punk with face-ripping fuzzy guitar riffing and a touch of Alice Cooper’s shock rock antics. It’s a recipe that demands your attention.

Taking the stage shortly before 10 p.m., Starcrawler kicked off loud and wild and breathlessly continued with little pause throughout their all too brief 45-minute set.

Clothed in little more than underwear, De Wilde’s intense fake blood-dribbling stage presence of back bends and awkward-looking poses contrasts with that of hyper-energetic Henri Cash, a 17-year-old high schooler who plays every song like it’s the greatest moment of his life. It’s pretty impossible not to enjoy the spectacle.

Holding down the chaos of De Wilde and Cash is the near-motionless bassist Tim Franco, who along with long-haired drummer Austin Smith keep the front two’s obvious star power in check with a solid, if unspectacular, backing track.

The band end their explosive set with De Wilde jumping into the way-too-small Basement crowd, wandering around, and vanishing backstage, leaving Cash to descent into a full-on guitar freakout that ultimately involves some lucky lady yanked out from the crowd to shred on stage and close out the evening in an unholy and unforgettable din.

The band are signed to London’s ultra-hip Rough Trade with their self-titled debut album out now.

Also on the bill for the evening were Cincinatti-based Lemon Sky and alt-country band, Sundown Club.

Matt Ellis is a freelance photographer who covers bands that visit the city and the Columbus Crew MLS team. More about Matt can be found at Matt Ellis Photography.

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