Starset | O2 Forum Kentish Town | 24 August 2017
Support bands have it tough. Thirty minutes, at the front of the stage is all they get. If they’re really lucky, their name’s on a banner draped somewhere behind them.
But there’s no need to feel sorry for Starset. Not only do they get almost an hour to play before Breaking Benjamin’s set, they’ve brought a production that would rival many headliners’ (including tonight’s). The perspex drum screen is the first giveaway. Their use of a live cellist, rather than synth patches, is the second.
When most of the band step out looking like the hero from ‘Halo’ (complete with illuminated space suit and helmet) and visuals of space, planets, and other intergalactic sci-fi stuff start appearing on video screens on either side of the band, it’s obvious this is no typical support slot.
But this is no case of style over substance. Their two albums – 2014’s ‘Transmissions’ and this year’s ‘Vessels’ – are stuffed with songs so popular that the Columbus, Ohio quartet have amassed over 1 billion YouTube views. And tonight, frontman Dustin Bates, bassist Ron DeChant, guitarist Brock Richards, drummer Adam Gilbert, and touring member Jonathan Kampfe reel off one after another, with power and precision.
There’s the synth-fuelled ‘Monster’, soaring rock anthem ‘Carnivore’, and the crunching ‘Demons’, which has a chorus big enough to account for the 42-million-and-counting streams on Spotify. And rather than distracting from the music, the visual overload, which extends to choreographed guitar riffage on illuminated platforms, only reinforces the band’s futuristic sound.
Starset is clearly more than a snappy name, it’s a mission statement.