Stars of Track and Field at the Middle East Upstairs

If you’ve never been to the Middle East in Cambridge, MA, it’s an absolute must. I had the privilege of squeezing into the Middle East Upstairs, which was about the size of my apartment’s living room, to see Stars of Track and Field open for Lights.

[caption id=”attachment_2731” align=”alignright” width=”319” caption=”Who are you mystery man? Your music is wonderful.”]Who are you mystery man? Your music is wonderful.[/caption]

There was also an opening one-man act before Stars of Track and Field; I walked in about half way through his set. His friend was kind enough to give me his name, but I can’t remember. I’m sorry, mystery noise man, but I really, really enjoyed your music. Standing on stage, he seemed incredibly serious in his dressy black duds and straight face, but once he got his fingers on the synth and his mouth on that mic, it was wonderful. Think Shiny Toy Guns with more of an M83 vibe. Once I find his name (I will find his name, please help me out), I’ll link you.

[caption id=”attachment_2732” align=”alignleft” width=”200” caption=”Kevin Calaba, vocals and guitar “]Kevin Calaba, vocals and guitar [/caption]

Then Stars of Track and Field took the stage. I mean that in the most comprehensive way possible. This trio from Portland totally dominated the stage with their humble-yet-inherently-cool-because-we’re-musicians presence with their big rock feel and Kevin Calaba’s crystal clear vocals. Their sound draws traces from U2, Coldplay, My Bloody Valentine, the Silversun Pickups and at one point, I scribbled “Switchfoot matured and made good” on my notepad. It’s rock with a little ambience, just enough to make it full and interesting - nothing overdone, nothing burdened with too much effort.

[caption id=”attachment_2733” align=”alignright” width=”299” caption=”Jason Bell, guitar and vocals. “]Jason Bell, guitar and vocals. [/caption]

Most of their set consisted of songs from their September release A Time For Lions, and after a little research I’ve found that this album is very different from their first, Centuries Before Love and War. As a forever fan of Brand New, I am all about genre-jumping between albums.

The mellow Centuries Before Love and War has a more electronic element reminiscent of the Postal Service, check out this popular track ‘Say Hello:’

[audio: |titles=Say Hello |artists=Stars of Track and Field]

So why the switch to a more mainstream sound? In an interview with Billboard, Kevin Calaba explained,

I want to grab them by the head and shake them. I don’t want to be background music.
It seems to be working since the fans, new and old, are responding real well to _A Time for Lions. _I mean, what better way to shake people than change up your sound? Here’s a comment from
I’ve been a HUGE fan of Stars of Track and Field since the release of ‘Centuries Before Love and War.’ This new single is fantastic … they maintain their unique sound, but have stretched into a new realm. I’m going to spend the next two months counting down the days til I can make ‘A Time for Lions’ all mine! - erickasunhine33
The tracks are great, but I seriously recommend seeing them live to get the full experience!

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