As the world’s athletes competed on the biggest stage in international sports, Vancouver 2010’s Cultural Olympiad put the spotlight on the best and brightest from our country’s thriving arts community. Expectations were high as the crowd filed into the majestic Orpheum Theatre, and openers Hey Rosetta! would not disappoint. The six-piece indie rock act from Newfoundland stunned the crowd with a whirlwind tour of their latest album, “Into Your Lungs.” This young band has nearly perfected the art of the build-up, and frontman Tim Baker commanded attention from the barely audible opening notes of each song right through to the crashing finish. When the band cleared the stage a mere handful of songs later, the audience burst into a standing ovation that continued until the theatre’s lights revealed that there would be no encore.
When Stars finally took the stage, they immediately called the crowd to their feet for a set heavy on fan favourites. This is a band known for its theatrics, so no one flinched when vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan started to toss the white roses that littered their set into the hands of their delighted fans. The band also unveiled some new songs that mostly followed the same formula as their recent indie pop duets. The highlight of the performance came when the Montreal-based band was joined on stage by Hey Rosetta!’s small string section for “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.” At one point, the always-dramatic Campbell announced that Hey Rosetta! would not be opening for Stars again: “They’re too fucking good—they can do it on their own.” In the midst of Olympic fever, it was nice to see a well-established band like Stars passing the torch to the up-and-comers.