I had never heard of Starcrawler, the four-piece rock band from Los Angeles, until a few days ago, so I went to YouTube, hoping to find their music uploaded there. I watched the video for their single “Ants,” a montage of clips from live performances. Intrigued, I binged a string of recordings of their shows.
Leaning into and squinting at my computer screen, I let out an audible, “Is she actually doing that.” “She” is Arrow de Wilde, the theatrical singer of Starcrawler.
To give you just one example of what I’m talking about: Wilde, at an outdoor festival, jumps off stage, hops the barrier, and begins skipping through the crowd, colliding into people along her merry way. I should mention that she’s only wearing her underwear, a pink tank-top, and white boots.
The eccentricities are part of Wilde’s onstage persona. She, as far as I can tell, poses as an escapee from a psyche ward. For some shows, she wears a hospital gown; other nights, silver nylon trousers and a matching V-neck, an outfit that could be found hanging in a glam-rock wardrobe. She affects paranoia. Her eyes bulge, and she nervously scans the room, expecting, I assume, a terrible incident to occur, or maybe in her mind it’s already occurred.
But some nights, or perhaps within a single night, she looks, not afraid, but deranged, possessed even.
Red dye (or some such thing) is often smeared around her lips like she had just bitten off the head of a bat or maybe the finger of an innocent bystander. In one video, Wilde, before taking to the microphone to sing, leans in toward the crowd, hips behind her, legs spread and bent like a Praying Mantas. And as if she were breathing fire, she stretches her mouth open and arches her neck toward the ceiling till you think her head will pop right off, and if it does, you’re convinced that she’ll continue twisting up her face and menacing you.
Because at this point, Wilde is more than a psychopath who stopped taking her meds and made a run for it; she’s an evil creature from another world. It’s like if the Demogorgon from Dungeons & Dragons (made famous by Stranger Things) joined a rock band.
The music is reminiscent of the first wave of punk rock that found a home at CBGB’s in the 1970s. You hear influences of Blondie, Television, The Dead Boys, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, and other similar bands. Starcrawler works well in this tradition, and like their predecessors, they set fire to the rules and scatter the ashes.
Guitarist Henri Cash, drummer Austin Smith, and bassist Tim Franco play with the confidence of musicians well beyond their years. Two of the Starcrawlers are teenagers (according to one article, Cash, the youngest, is still in high school); the other two are in their very early twenties, and they’ve only been around a year. If Starcrawler continues on their current trajectory, it’s only a matter of time before they take their place among the rock n’ roll luminaries they echo.
If you’re interested in seeing Starcrawler, they play this Sunday, December 10 at Walters. Doors at eight; $10 dollars to get in. Starcrawler will be sharing the stage with Skating Polly (who’s headlining), and Quinn the Brain.