Review - Starset @ the UC Theater (3/3/18)

Starset (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Last night was a sci-fi assault on the senses when Dustin Bates brought his theatrical rock band, Starset, to the UC Theater. This is Starset's first headlining tour and they were joined by Palisades, Grabbitz, and Year of the Locust. Billed as 'Immersion: Part 1', Starset is continuing to support their 2017 album, Vessels (iTunes), which grabbed critical acclaim last year as Dustin built a following through the major festival circuit. We had a chance to speak with Dustin a couple of weeks ago and you can find the full interview here.
Dustin Bates (L) of Starset (Photo: Kevin Keating)
In terms of the concert last night, which Dustin refers to as 'demonstrations', it was a total sensory overload. New to the tour this time around is an AR experience only available on the newer iPhones for now... Prior to Starset coming onstage, a screen instructed the audience to download the app from the appstore to view the augmented environment. From my vantage point in the photo pit at the front of the stage, I could tell that a few people in the audience had their phones up, but unfortunately from my I couldn't tell if they were taking pictures or actually checking out the AR experience. Admittedly, I've only got an iPhone 6, so I wasn't able to check it out personally.
Starset (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The other new additions are the plexiglass enclosures that surround the cellist and violist, in addition to the drummer, who was already previously enclosed in a cube. Throughout their performance, the enclosures would oscillate between transparency and opaqueness which would allow for additional visuals to be projected onto the screens. Both the guitarist and bassist flanked either side of Dustin in full astronaut outfits throughout the night, and situated along the rear of the stage were the drummer who was then flanked by a violinist and cellist. Although each of Dustin's astronauts wore colored LED decorations on their space suits, Dustin, for the most part was bathed in darkness onstage.
Starset (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The light show was incredible though -- a mixture of white and colored strobe lights were synced with the pounding rhythms, and about three quarters into the show, lasers enveloped the theater and were intermixed into the remainder of the set. The front of the stage also had 6 fog machines that shot smoke into vertical columns across the stage for added effect.
Dustin Bates of Starset (Photo: Kevin Keating
Dustin's clearly hit a nerve with his new album, and combined with the theatrics, Starset is definitely a band to watch! Starset's set was a solid 80 minutes with very little chatter in between songs, and Dustin even joked with two songs left that 'this would normally be where the encore goes' before launching into "Bringing It Down". What a night!

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Starset Setlist The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall, Berkeley, CA, USA 2018, Immersion: Part One

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