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Ali McGhee has a Ph.D. in English...
When I was a kid growing up in the 80s, a few movies and television shows were in my rotation: The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, Lady Lovely Locks. But I didn't love them for their heroines, as cheerful and pluckily brave as they were. No, I loved the villains: the handsome, demonic "No Heart," the Spectra-stealing "Dark Princess"—who apparently wasn't even worth naming, the selfish black-haired Duchess RavenWaves, ruler of the kingdom of Tangleland. I wasn't really a bad kid, but these gorgeous, cat-eyed ladies (and gents) were far more interesting to me than their good-to-a-fault counterparts. I longed not for the simple, focused life of fighting evil, but the messier, more dramatic upheavals of the tyrant.
That may be an odd way to begin a show preview for the Atlanta-based StarBenders, but that's where their music took me when I listened to it: back to that remembrance of forbidden power, of identifying with the badass witches rather than the moral crusaders. If you're titillated by that notion in the slightest, do yourself a favor and see the StarBenders tomorrow night at West Asheville's Odditorium. Kimi Shelter. Credit: Vegas Giovanni
Frontwoman and songstress Kimi Shelter could be one of those glamorous, chaos-obsessed villains. Her long, dark hair and straight-cut bangs visually reference 60s counterculture and covens of cavorting enchantresses. She, along with the rest of the band—Aaron Lecesne on bass, Emily Moon on drums, and Kriss Tokaji on guitars and vocals—exemplifies the explosive combination that results when style meets substance. These guys are musically fierce. Songs invoke everything from punk rock to 80s hair metal, goth to 50s doo-wop. Their most recent full-length album, Heavy Petting (2016, Institution Records), captures raw retellings of moments through bone-shaking rock 'n' roll.
StarBenders has played across the country, for Goth Nights and between roller derby bouts, but tomorrow night will be their first time in Asheville. I talked with Shelter about the upcoming show, their fabulous wardrobes, their eager anticipation of Stranger Things, and everything else they're up to.