Star Off Machine is a Southern California-based band that has achieved regional recognition, and is now setting their sights towards loftier goals. This gig was the band’s fan appreciation/record release party for their latest album, Wake Me Up. Celebrating the release of your new CD on a Sunday at 10:30 pm is a tough nut to crack, even at a prestigious venue as the House of Blues. The mark of a dedicated band is that no matter if they are playing for 1000 people or 10 people, they give it their all. With his photogenic good looks and keen sense of rock n’ roll fashion style (isn’t it refreshing to see a frontman who looks like one, instead of a roadie?) lead singer Erik Holloway was more than up to the task. He is quite the animated performer, with facial expressions and gestures that provide a visual match to the passion in his vocals.
The music of Star Off Machine is difficult to categorize. It’s hard rock, but definitely not metal. Some of the songs are quite easy to embrace on the first listen, while others feature more complex arrangements and melodies, and require deeper introspection. Wake Me Up was the opening song, and is also the first song on the new album. There is a lot going on in that song, music-wise. Shifts in tempo, dynamics, abrupt stops and starts. In music such as this, a competent rhythm section is not only desirable, it is essential, or else the song will lag, or worse, simply fall apart. Drummer Greg Tuthill and bassist Aaron Wilder proved from that first song that they were up to the task.
Power Of One is an interesting composition. It started with a haunting, echo-laden guitar intro before shifting to a heavier feel, thanks for guitarist Robin Charlet (who also ably handled backing vocals). The song is about the life and tragic death of mixed martial arts fighter Evan Tanner, and includes sound clips of news reports on Tanner’s death. The tune ended as it began, with the somber guitar riff leaving the listener to reflect on the heavy nature of the song.
Five of the ten songs on the set list were from the new album, understandable and fitting—it was STOFMA’s (an acronym that they frequently refer to themselves as) record release/fan appreciation party, after all. The balance of the set was filled with songs from their previous album, Burn This. Bastard, Almost, and Side Of Me were three such songs, and given the reaction of the audience, there were quite a few people at the House of Blues who were longtime STOFMA fans.
Songs that make people take note that the band are something a little different from the rest, a solid rhythm section, talented guitarist, and a charismatic frontman. Star Off Machine has what it takes to make the move from local favorites to the proverbial bigger and better thing.