Starset's "Demonstration" was presented at Highline Ballroom in New York City on October 7, 2016, a clever use of the term by the band to refer to a tour date. Starset formed in 2013 in Columbus, OH by Dustin Bates, well known as the former lead singer for Downplay. Starset have made headlines with their sci-fi concept behind the name of the band and their progressive alternative rock sound that is described as Cinematic Rock. In the story line surrounding the band, Starset have been commissioned by The Starset Society for the purpose of raising public awareness of The Message, scientific knowledge that has been ignored and concealed which would prevent salvation for the future of humanity. Starset's debut album Transmissions was released in July 2014 followed by a tour with Breaking Benjamin that began in January 2016 and lasted until August 2016. Starset's demonstration at Highline Ballroom comes after performing at major music festivals in September such as Texas Mutiny 2016, Houston Open Air 2016, and Ten Sixty Five Music Festival 2016. Keeping the momentum going and much to the excitement of fans, Starset announced this month that they are teaming up with Marvel to release a graphic novel due out Fall 2017.
Doors opened at 7:00PM with only one opening performance by Long Island band Gambit to kick off the show. Gambit describe their genre of music as Sincere Electronic Pop comprised of band members Lyle Kamesaki, Jeff Ballantyne, Ricky Wells, and Justin Parker. By the end of Gambit's set, fans were warmed up for Starset and proceeded to move closer to the stage. Others in the crowd donned the Starset masks fully equipped with remote controlled LED lights, which will also be available with the purchase of Starset's upcoming graphic novel. As Starset prepared to take the stage, the venue played Starset's instrumental music while the only lighting had been provided by a large projection screen, adorned with the Starset logo behind the drum kit fell over the crowd.
Starset performed the entirety of Transmissions that night, opening their set with the minute and a half album intro "First Light" which starts off with the deep vibration of a mechanical siren seeming to prepare the audience for launch or evacuation. The frighteningly dramatic "First Light" intro allows you to imagine yourself venturing out into an unknown region of the universe. The crowd shouts loudly as Starset takes the stage to follow their introduction with "Rise and Fall". Fans grew even more enraptured to see Starset live in full space suit costumes, blue and red LED lit masks and with their overwhelming sci-fi themed stage production. "Rise and Fall" came in heavy as the stage was washed out in purple and blue lighting. Everyone in attendance threw their fists in the air to welcome Starset to the stage during the song, which later quiets down into an enigmatic piano solo and with tones building back up softly. You can imagine making a scientific breakthrough, crossing an atmospheric barrier or discovering some uncharted intergalactic territory as "Rise and Fall" comes to a close.
Dustin Bates' voice was sultry and melodious as the ballad "Antigravity" opened up with Dustin on keys. About thirty seconds in, fans already began singing along. Dustin also switches between keys and his Emulator Dual View System, which is responsible for the majority of electronic elements in their music. Starset followed "Antigravity" with "Halo", "Telescope", and "Point of No Return" in that order. Fans also sang along to "Dark on Me", a thoughtful song that plays on heartstrings and like other songs on Transmissions can be interpreted in many ways by the listener to relate with. To set the mood for "Dark on Me", white strobe lights moved horizontally against the fog to create a surreal vibe for the song. Simply put, "Dark on Me" has "all of the feels" and in our opinion, one of the best tracks on Transmissions. Another highlight throughout Starset's performance happens when the band members "reset" as robots after every song, an intriguing and entertaining addition to their concerts that fans seemed to enjoy enormously. Starset successfully executed the concept of the band's storyline with the message of cognizance surrounding politics and science. This comes as no surprise as Dustin holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering, has conducted research for the U.S. Air Force and taught at the International Space Museum.
What was also interesting to watch was Dustin performing with two mics, a standard SM58 as well as a Shure Green Bullet to emulate the transmission sounding vocals on the album. Starset ended the show with "My Demons", another song that the audience sang along to with vigor under the flamboyant pink and blue lighting. The breakdown for "My Demons" comes in three minutes into the song with guitarist Brock Richards and bassist Ron DeChant standing atop individual platforms, grooving into a synchronized headbang. Adam Gilbert beat the hell out of his green LED lit drum kit (say that five times fast). As if performing live isn't hard enough, Starset transcend fan interaction and stage presence. Starset's musical influences range from Nine Inch Nails to Hans Zimmer and a second album is said to be released before the end of 2016.