Red Tide Rising
Vessels Tour 2017
January 23rd, 2017
With Starset’s Vessels tour bypassing Omaha, a trip to Denver, the next closest stop, would be in order. Concerts are always better when there’s a road trip though, especially when the concert is at a venue I’ve been waiting years to photograph in.
Walking to the Marquis Theater from downtown Denver was surreal. Coming around the street corner and seeing the line of patrons wrapped around the block was invigorating.
Starset are a band that I’ve been a fan of since first hearing the band’s debut album a few months before its official release. Starset’s fans, or Messengers, are some of the most supportive in the rock and metal genres. Seeing the SOLD OUT sign on the Marquis Theater’s box office proved that. When I first heard Vessels, in early December of 2016, I messaged vocalist and founder Dustin Bates, and shared how incredibly impressed with the album I was and how excited I was to hear these tracks played live. Bates admitted being nervous about the release and unsure of how the band’s fans would accept the album. I assured him that we would love the album and surely sell out dates on the upcoming tour in support of the album’s release. “I just want to play theater sized venues,” he joked. Well Mr Bates, selling out nearly ever date of the Vessels tour in mid-sized venues means that theater tours are definitely in the band’s future.
Opening tonight’s show would be Red Tide Rising. No secret to the heavier Denver rock and metal scenes, I had no idea who these guys were. I mean, to my knowledge they’ve played Omaha, Nebraska once before, and have only started touring regionally in the past few years. I learned long ago to never miss the opening bands. For example, I nearly passed up seeing In This Moment opening for Kittie on the Funeral For Yesterday tour in 2007. Now In This Moment are one of my favorite bands. I’ve had Red Tide Rising’s Voices EP on my rotation list since the show. These guys have an incredible stage presence that I’ve not seen in years. The crowd’s reaction to their set was as equally impressive. We all know that the opening act has the toughest time convincing the crowd that they’ve earned their spot on the stage, and Red Tide Rising did that. It may have taken a few songs for the crowd to get into the music, but by the time the band cut into their cover of Tears for Fear’s Mad World, there were several hundred voices singing along with the other several hundred bouncing around.
Joining Starset on the Vessels tour would be Gemini Syndrome. I’d not gotten the chance to see the band since they opened for David “Disturbed” Draiman’s side project, Device, back in 2013. Vocalist and founder Aaron Nordstrom has really found his niche since parting ways with alt-metal and activist Otep Shamaya as one of her touring guitarist. Continuing to tour in support of their 2016 sophomore release, Momento Mori, Gemini Syndrome’s 10 song set highlighted the band’s fan favorite tracks.
Tonight though, it was Starset that transformed the Marquis Theater into an interstellar dance party, as they will do for every stop of the Vessels tour and beyond.
The fourth stop of the tour, Denver’s setlist was one of the longest. For almost an hour and a half, Starset smashed through 17 tracks from their debut and sophomore releases, focusing more on their new material. Opening the Vessels tour with Into the Unknown was a portent. Starset has evolved so much over the past few years, no one really knows what to expect from one show to the next.
The addition of both a violinist and cellist to the live band was a brilliant move. The way tracks from Transmissions were seamlessly woven into those from Vessels was a cathartic experience. There are literally no limitations to what this unparalleled quintet will accomplish.
Since releasing their debut album in 2014, Starset have remained unmatched in the music scene, and they’ve earned it. Very few musicians in the past decade have been able to carve such an undefinable niche in both the metal and electronic music scenes. Their vision is as complicated as it is inspiring and only musicians as intelligent and talented as them could truly bring such a story to life.
I’ve been fortunate to have watched this band’s live show evolve over the past few years. From simple strobe lights and Bate’s signature LED production board, to elaborate visuals. I’ve witnessed hundreds of live shows, but with the Vessels tour, Starset by far has the best light show I’ve ever seen. Adam “Drum Abuse” Gilbert’s drum kit was strategically placed within the confines of a plexi-glass cube, with various videos played on the canvass the cube became. As the band took us through a sonic journey from Antigravity to Ricochet to Dark On Me, starbursts and super nova flashed and collided on stage. Starset would use every artistic medium at their disposal to raise the bar on what a live concert experience should be.
The band’s stage worn compression suites and helmets have also changed. The darker color of the previous suites was replaced with white and the lighting rigs of their helmets were upgraded. It’s difficult to describe the complexities of how these new suites enhanced visual experience of the light show. Bassist Ron DeChant and Guitarist Brock Richards’ helmet lights flashed and pulsed in accordance the music.
Its Starset’s intergalactic themes and thought altering subjects that keeps pushing the limits of contemporary music and just gets better with every show. The music created in studio may inspire, but their live show radiates this ultimate, metaphysical energy that has the ability to transcend consciousness and awaken and the soul.
Starset have become so progressive and dynamic that you will always get something new and profound out of every show. Those same mind-expanding live demonstrations have put them on the vanguard of a new musical movement. But it’s not just the visuals of the band’s live shows. With Vessels, vocalist and founder, Dustin Bates, has crafted a new genre of music and no matter how many times you’ve seen them live or listened to their studio albums, you will always want more. While you may not get the chance to see one of the Vessels tour demonstrations, do yourself a favor, don’t miss your next opportunity to see Starset live. If you want to let yourself go and lose yourself in the blinding quasar pulses of music and forget everything else except for the here and now, Starset are the band you need to see the next time they come through your area.
Into the Unknown, Halo, Down With the Fallen, Antigravity, Ricochet, Dark on Me, Rise and Fall, Telescope, Frequency, Satellite, Everglow, Carnivore, Bringing It Down, Back to the Earth, Monster, The Future Is Now, My Demons