Starset brings “breathable” spacesuits and concept albums to rock festivals

Credit: Steve GullickStarset‘s tour brings them outside this weekend when they play the Welcome to Rockville and Fort Rock festivals in Florida. While they would much rather play a dark room or planetarium than a sunny field, the “Monster” rockers find a way to adapt.

“In the daylight, we don’t have control of the elements, which is our preferred environment,” frontman Dustin Bates tells ABC Radio. “[The festival set] gets a little more in your face, a little more aggressive. The setlist, depending on the venue, might get a little heavier.”

Crafting a festival setlist is another challenge for Starset, since the brief set times often don’t let them fully dive into the concepts of their albums.

“If it gets down to the 35, 40 minutes, you’re hands are tied, and you have to do a few of the hits, and then a few of your favorite songs, and get in, get out,” Bates says. “But it still works out. People still perceive [the concept], and enough of our elements are there.”

The most unique festival obstacle facing Starset, though, is the fact that everybody in the band but Bates wears actual spacesuits during live shows. As Bates explains, the suits are made from “breathable material” to help combat the heat, but he originally had a more elaborate cooling system in mind.

“I was going to put in a cooling system using a backpack with ice water that pumped through,” says Bates, who has a PhD in electrical engineering. “But then I filled the backpack with a whole system of compressed air for the thrusters at their elbows, with 3D-printered nozzles, which is much more fun.”

He laughs, “But I had to apologize to the guys, ’cause they went from being hot to now they’re carrying, like, 40 pounds on their back!”

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