During their ten-odd years together, San Francisco’s Track Star had a knack for distilling a boatload of 90’s indie-rock tropes into a single streamlined package: deceptively minimalist, three-chords-or-less-in-three-minutes-or-less pop songs alternating between pillow-soft lullabies and noisy tantrum-rock. Friday night’s show at Cafe du Nord was only their second time playing together after going on hiatus in 2002, but true to form, they treated it less like a capital-r Reunion and more like just another show, playing with the same casual, deadpan charm that made them local favorites back in the day.
Calling All Monsters
The evening also afforded the unique opportunity to see Track Star share the stage with its offspring band, Calling All Monsters. Where Track Star was more of a quirky pop band that didn’t even have a bassist, Calling All Monsters is a true rock juggernaut, and a perfect showcase for Matthew Troy’s ruined-throat bark and ferocious slashing guitar anthemics.
Dear and The Headlights
Sandwiched in between Calling All Monsters and Track Star were two out-of-town bands, Dear and the Headlights (Phoenix, AZ) and Vedera (Kansas City). Dear and the Headlights came off like a milder version of Bright Eyes, doling out manageable doses of rootsy angst from the acoustic-guitar-slinging-singer-songwriter-with-backing-band genre. The one departure from formula, “Sweet Talk”, was the standout of the set, with its chiming, angular rock riffs recalling Braid’s 90s-Midwestern-emo catalog. Vedera couldn’t quite replicate the darkly-reverbed modern-rock sound of their recorded material within du Nord’s cozy confines, but Kristen May’s strong, clear vocalsâ€” which for some reason brought to mind a tougher version of the Sundays’ Harriet Wheelerâ€” carried the day.