In late May, the cinematic rock band Starset kicked off the second leg of their Horizons tour. I caught their show in Sayreville, New Jersey on June 26th. They headlined the Starland Ballroom with special guests Red, Oni, and Divide the Fall.
As a huge fan of Starset, I was ecstatic to be able to see them with Red, who has also been a favorite of mine for years. It was a perfect combination of cinematic, uplifting, and hardcore rock music. Oni and Divide the Fall were also very enjoyable, giving a heavier vibe to the night.
Starset took the stage just after 9pm. They opened their set with “UNVEILING THE ARCHITECTURE,” which is the tape intro from the new album Horizons. The intro was accompanied by a white tarp that draped across the stage and had the iconic Starset star projected along the fabric. Once the tarp fell and the full 7-piece band was revealed, the heavy-hitting track “Carnivore” filled the venue, one of my personal favorites from their first album Transmissions. After “Carnivore,” they went right into “Echo” from their Divisions album, and then “Infected” from Horizons.
There truly isn’t any band like Starset around right now. Their futuristic space theme is consistent through their outfits, music, and stage setup. Everything pulls together so perfectly, it’s like watching a movie unfold before your eyes. Starset almost has too much light onstage, if there ever is such a thing, but every single moment is as mesmerizing as the last.
Starset consists of frontman Dustin Bates, drummer Adam Gilbert, guitarist Brock Richards, and bassist Ron Dechant. Starset also has three additional touring members, which the show truly wouldn’t be the same without: Cory Juba on keys and guitar, Siobhán Cronin on violin, and Zuzana Engererova on cello.
A Starset demonstration is broken up into two distinct sections. In the first half of the set, the band wears apocalypse-type attire, reminiscent of Mad Max or Dune. After the 6 minute intermission, they come back out on stage with the iconic Starset spacesuits that the band has had since their inception in 2014.
The climax of the show comes just before the intermission, with the song “It Has Begun” from their first album (also one of my favorites). That song is pure cinematic rock, giving heavy-hitting instrumentals and haunting vocals that mesh perfectly with the intense lasers and lights that illuminate the stage.
By far the highlight of the night was their surprise rendition of “Icarus” from Horizons. They had just added it to the setlist that week and had never done it prior. “Icarus” is one of my favorite songs of all time, so imagine my surprise when they played it. Right before the start of the song, Dustin affectionately spoke to the crowd about how much he appreciated us and our support over the years. As someone who had been a fan since their first album, it was sweet to hear him thank us for the long-term support. After Dustin’s short speech, he introduced the new song, to which the entire venue erupted in excitement and disbelief.
The band ended with their best-known track, “My Demons” from Transmissions. I’m fairly certain that the crowd was singing just as loud as, if not louder than, Starset themselves.
I’ve seen Starset 6 times, and each time they somehow get even better. This crowd was especially enthusiastic and energetic. Every single fist was in the air and the floor shook as everyone jumped up and down. A Starset demonstration is genuinely an exhilarating experience from start to finish.
Article and all photos contributed by Gina Monahan (Gemma The Rose). For more of her work, find her on Instagram @gemmatherose.