Starset are on the road supporting their new album ‘Divisions.’ The shows are dubbed “Demonstrations” and the tour began mid-September and runs through October. The sold out Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota was also treated to Palisades, Hyde, and A Brilliant Lie, which made for a great night of music.
A Brilliant Lie kicked the night off earlier than the posted time listed. I just managed to grab a couple photos and caught a great cover of Toto’s “Africa.” Lead vocalist Tara Lightfoot was extremely energetic as she moved all over the stage and engaged the crowd. The band hails from Orlando, Florida and released ‘Threads: Weaver” earlier this year. It’s a great dose of alt rock laced with hooks and soaring melodies. The closing line said by Lightfoot summed up how fun their show was. She announced, “We are A Brilliant Lie. If you did not like us, we are Nickelback.”
Hyde (Hideto Takarai) brought his group to the stage next. He is the vocalist behind two of Japans most popular bands, L’Arc-en-Ciel and Vamps, and has brought his solo project, simply called Hyde, to the United States on a couple of occasions. I saw them earlier this year with In This Moment on a much larger stage but Hyde brought that same energy to the smaller Varsity Theater venue. He released the album ‘Anti’ earlier this year and opened with “Who’s Gonna Save Us.” There was no questioning the faithful following he has as fans made themselves heard throughout his set. Dressed in a black coat and a mask that covered part of his face, his eyes glowed chillingly in the darkness of the stage.His mystique further amplified by his band all wearing masks that that lit up. The band cruised through “After Light,” “Another Moment,” and “Sick” which Hyde used a megaphone to further amp up the intensity. Urging the fans to take out their cell phones and wave them over their heads, they closed with “Ordinary World.”
Palisades took the stage with the song “War” and then into “Shed My Skin.” Both songs came off the 2018 released “Erase The Pain.” The immediate shock came as vocalist Lou Miceli Jr. was not with the band. I later read that he was sitting out this run of shows due to an ongoing health problem related to his voice. The lead vocal duties fell onto bassist Brandon Elgar. They also hit on the self-titled album from 2017 with the crushing “Through Hell” which was one of my highlights of the set. The song “Ways To Disappear” was dedicated to anyone dealing with anxiety like Elgar does. Guitarists Matt Marshall and Xavier Adames were in perfect sync and drummer Aaron Rosa was a beast behind the kit. Asking if there were any Linkin Park fans in the crowed, they covered “One Step Closer” which had everyone in the theater moving. The set ended with “Let Down” and then“Erase The Pain.” A good set and Elgar did a great job of filling in for Miceli Jr. on lead vocals.
The spoken intro to Starset’s newest record, ‘Divisions,’ “A Brief History Of The Future” was accompanied by a video and it set the table for their demonstration in Minneapolis. They opened with“Manifest” and then jumped into “Monster.” Draped in dystopian outfits the band had a futuristic look that worked in unison with the bands overall production. The band featured Dustin Bates (vocals), Brock Richards (guitar), Ron DeChant (bass) and Adam Gilbert (bass). To add to the sound two string players flanked each side of Bates, as Siobhan Cronin (violin) and Mariko Muranaka Friend (cello) provided another layer of dynamics to wall of sound the band created live.
The images coming off the screen were captivating. Starset Society representatives were sending messages regarding the BMI (Brain Machine Interface) and warnings of threats from hackers. The story was perfectly intertwined with the music and stage show. The band encompassed so many elements into their music that make their sound unique to them. They are mixing metal, rock, prog, and electronica to create this over the top sonic assault that grabs you as it comes off the stage. The set included “Echo,” “Where The Skies End” and “Perfect Machine.” They did a cool version of Led Zeppelin’s“Kashmir” as Bates added the song was a driving force behind the bands sound. After a costume change the band started back up with “Carnivore” from the ‘Transmissions’ album. It transitioned into AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” Cronin played the vocal parts on the violin.
The overall mythology that surrounds the band was a bit overwhelming for me as I’m still digesting everything that I consumed throughout the ninety-minute show. Not having any of the background going into the show left me focusing on the performance and the songs. Some of the tunes that stood out for me were “Starlight,” “Unbecoming,” “Telekinetic,” and the closer “My Demons.” They sounded absolutely amazing and I left the show wanting to dig into the catalog and learn more about story line that plays such a pivotal part of the bands presentation.
Overall this tour was fantastic and offers a lot of music and diversity among the four bands. There was something musically for just about everyone and Starset showed to long time and fans and new ones seeing them for the fist time, like myself, they are a force to reckon with.
Review and Photography by Jeff Kunze
A Brilliant Lie