Unleashing Raw Power: Starbenders and The Haunt’s Energetic Club Tour REVIEW+PHOTOS: Starbenders and The Haunt at Skully's Music and Diner 7/10/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- Atlanta-based glam rockers Starbenders and alt-rockers The Haunt from Florida embarked on a co-headlining club tour this summer, making a stop at Skully’s Music and Diner in Columbus, OH. As a music enthusiast, I recently discovered both bands through Instagram and IG Reels, which have become a new alternative for me to explore new music. Being from the MTV/radio generation, it can be challenging to find new bands without those traditional sources. However, when this tour was announced, I was genuinely excited because both bands had piqued my interest.
The Haunt kicked off the night with an energetic and captivating set, capturing the attention of everyone in attendance. The band, composed of vocalist Anastasia Grace and guitarist/vocalist Maxamillion “Max” Haunt, along with Nat Smallish on bass and Nick Lewert on drums, exudes a post-punk goth aesthetic that perfectly complements their alternative sound. Anastasia Grace, a dynamic force of energy, gracefully prances and dances across the stage while delivering soulful and powerful vocals throughout the entire set. Supported by Max and Nat, the band members interact seamlessly, creating a high-spirited performance. They perform as a tightly-knit group, pouring their hearts into every moment, and leaving the audience fulfilled by the end. Lewert, a powerhouse on the drums, alongside Smallish, maintains a tight rhythm that anchors the music.
Their sound is an amalgamation of pop, punk, and melodic metal, providing the perfect backdrop for Anastasia’s impressive vocal abilities. Her vocal control surpasses her years, making The Haunt an act worth witnessing live. The band has spent a significant portion of 2023 on the road, performing as direct support for acts like Filter and Mike’s Dead. They currently have two EPs available, “The Haunt” from 2018 and “Social Intercourse” from 2021. However, experiencing them live will solidify your fandom as they continue to progress in their musical career. Keep an eye out for their upcoming September dates, as they may be hitting a town near you.Follow The Haunt on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.
I first came across Starbenders while searching for music related to Lilith Czar and discovered their cover of Queensryche’s “I Don’t Believe in Love,” which happens to be one of my all-time favorite songs by Queensryche. However, it was through drummer Emily Moon’s Instagram reels that I developed a genuine interest in Starbenders as their own unique band. I was captivated by the power behind her drumming, which led me to explore more of their discography, particularly their songs “Blood Moon” and “Holy Mother.” I found both tracks to be meticulously crafted and undeniably catchy. Given that Columbus was within driving distance for me and the announcement of this tour, I knew I had to cover their show.
Starbenders possess the collective swagger reminiscent of iconic rock bands such as Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and even 1970s KISS, while maintaining their own distinctive coolness and raw power. Watching them perform is a genuine treat as their songs seamlessly blend with their glam band aesthetic. Lead singer and guitarist Kimi Shelter casts a spell with her soft voice, which would fit well in various genres, yet she can also unleash a rougher side that she masterfully balances. Guitarist Kriss Tokaji shreds effortlessly, adding flair and depth to each song with his playing. Bassist Aaron Lecesne, in my opinion, stands out as a focal point of their show, prowling the stage, headbanging, exuding the charisma of a rock star without the negative connotations associated with the term. And then there’s Emily Moon, who, as I previously mentioned, is an absolute monster behind her drum kit. With sheer power and unwavering confidence, she lays down audacious grooves that contrast her quiet demeanor.
As a cohesive unit, the band members play off each other and engage with their audience, something that seems lacking in many live shows today. When bands possess such synergy, it truly captivates me as a spectator and turns me into a devoted fan of their live performances.
The tour concluded on July 14th, but Starbenders have some festival dates coming up in September, including the Blue Ridge Rock Fest, The Louder Than Life Fest, and Aftershock in early October. Additionally, they have planned UK dates for late October. Set to release their new album, “Take Back The Night,” on September 22nd, Starbenders are undeniably a band to watch. One of the great aspects of club shows is the opportunity to meet the bands after their sets, and I had the privilege of doing so. They were all incredibly gracious. I strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with these bands, as they represent the future of rock and roll.Follow Starbenders Smith on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.