STARSET brought their Divisions tour to the Bourbon Theatre Friday night (10/18) along with a great package of bands all with different styles.
In addition to great bands, I don’t think you could’ve asked for better fall weather. With temps in the 60s and the house being packed with over 600 crazy fans, it was nice to be able to step outside between sets and grab some air.
When I arrived at the Bourbon I saw a group of young girls hanging around by the band buses. I asked if they were in a band or waiting for a band. They said they were waiting for the band HYDE and they came all the way from Korea! They are following the tour and started in Portland.
I’ve talked to fans following bands many times, but I don’t think I’ve run into fans traveling internationally before. I was getting really excited to see what HYDE would be bringing to the show!
The first band on the bill A Brilliant Lie got the crowd warmed up with a little pop punk and fun jokes. With female lead vocals and crunchy guitars they sounded like a mix of Paramore, Millencolin, and Bodyjar. The highlight for me was the uptempo cover of Toto’s “Africa.” This really got the crowd bouncing. I spoke with the band after their set and they were pumped to be on tour with an up and coming band like STARSET and said it was a huge opportunity. They’re gaining exposure to new fans every night so I totally agree. Hopefully they can draw a pretty decent crowd if they come back for a headline show.
Next were the Japanese goth rockers HYDE. The worldwide music industry is a crazy thing. In the U.S. HYDE is the opening act for a mid-level rock band. In Japan, according to their Facebook bio lead singer HYDE as a solo artist has performed sold out shows at the Tokyo Dome (55,000 seats) over 16 times. Not only that, he’s had over 60 top ten songs on the Japanese Oricon charts! What’s up now Drake? No wonder there was a swarm of girls waiting by the bus.
Watching the band set up their gear they were all wearing masks, think Mushroomhead, Slipknot, etc. Anytime I see masks I’m a little leery that maybe the band’s music is a little underwhelming. As soon as the set started HYDE quickly proved that the masks are just an additional touch of stage drama. Their songs totally ripped! Part thrash metal, part synth rock, but all power, HYDE tore the place apart. I know with masks Slipknot is an easy comparison, but some of their heavier songs did hearken back to early Slipknot mixed with Children of Bodom.
I saw the group of girls from the bus in the front row and they were going crazy singing every word! It was hard to tell, but I think there were some English lyrics mixed in with the Japanese. Japanese or English, growling thrash screams are universal.
HYDE is kicking butt and taking names!
After HYDE were the Rise Records synth rockers Palisades. Trying to follow something as crazy as HYDE can be pretty tough but Palisades did their best. With a basic banner and stripped down light rig, the set was a bit more subdued, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. I was wading up to the front for STARSET and I heard several fans raving about the set. Palisades’ new album How it Feels to be Lost is out now and the band will be heading to Europe next month with Sleeping With Sirens.
In between Palisades and STARSET I took in some of the many posters the band had posted on the walls. They said things like “Work hard for a better life” and “500 credits for beef steak, printed locally.” Each poster had a QR code on it that fans could scan with their phone to reveal hidden images. One fan was taking pictures trying to collect snapshots of all the posters. I had heard stories of STARSET creating interactive adventures for fans through the use of their cell phones. Instead of shutting down the phones a la Jack White, they are trying to embrace technology. Don’t get me wrong, Jack White was in incredible, but having the phones shut down added a lot of extra cost to the ticket price and ultimately people are going to do what they want to do.
By the time STARSET was setting up their gear the place was sweltering! The crowd started cheering STARSET, STARSET! Not long after, a video started playing on a giant white curtain hung from the ceiling. To my understanding, STARSET’s music weaves a tale of a dystopian world where the government is trying to control the population with medical testing and brain conditioning. The video showed images of unwilling patients and street clashes between citizens and riot police.
Opening with their latest single “Manifest,” STARSET kicked things off with a bang! A swarm of people surged to the front to get a closer look and snap photos. Dressed like something out of the movie Dune, STARSET did an awesome job brining the dystopian future to life on stage. Right after “Manifest” the band jumped right into another banger with “Monster.” Using a multitude of cameras, STARSET produced a cool background display with spiraling images of each band member.
After a few more songs from the new album Divisions STARSET did a pretty decent cover of “Kashmir.” It’s not very often you see a rock band with a cello and violin so the cover totally makes sense.
STARSET went on to play about 8 more songs before closing with the smash hit “My Demons.” I was expecting an encore but I heard a lot of people saying it sounded like lead singer Dustin Bates was a bit under the weather. I could totally understand if that was the case. Encore or not, the crowd was on their feet and screaming for more. The next time STARSET comes through I would expect another sell out or possibly an even bigger venue. STARSET’s new album Divisions is available now.
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You can see the full setlist from STARSET and more photos below.
Where the Skies End
Bringing it Down
Other Worlds Than These