Going into tonight I knew nothing about Pertubator and the supports. The only thing I knew is that the genre it goes by is synthwave. With the top bar filling quickly, I noticed that tonight the concert downstairs for Pertubator had sold out. While speaking to a fan in line before doors opened I noticed some other fans dressed up in very underground/futuristic clothing.
As doors opened to go downstairs the line had already done a lap of the upstairs bar. With the first act called Rebel Yell up first I didn’t know what to expect. With a weird mixture of overlapping beats made by her equipment and her voice, eventually it all rolled together and had, what I overheard as, a Goth mosh. With punters donning their black platform shoes and heavy make-up they boogied along for the half an hour set from Rebel Yell. With no actual song names to go by, I myself started to just dance along and enjoy the music that was being made in front of me. While it was different to my usual taste, it reminded me of the music behind ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘The Matrix trilogy,’ as both gave off a ultramodern but throwback to the 80’s vibe.
Up next was a band called Hope Drone and boy was this different to the first act. Changing it up with a full band; consisting of two guitarists (one of which was the vocalist), a bassist and a drummer, Hope Drone brought a very progressive sound to their set which I believe was more or less split into two songs. Excessive strumming from all three guitarists and blast beats from the drummer, the intensity of this band was undeniably the most I’ve seen for a while. While the vocals were scratchy and not as strong as they could’ve been, the band did bring 40 minutes of pure energy. Although I don’t believe they fit the bill, their set was still quite well received by the underground crowd in Crowbar.
With the venue completely full and the stage being cleared of its instruments, it made way for two separate keyboards on both sides and a master dock/DJ deck in the centre. With the smoke machine filling the stage, the lights went black and out came Pertubator himself to the delight of the crowd. The next hour and fifteen minutes were consumed by a combination of tunes similar to what you’d hear from The Prodigy or basically any 80’s film (like Terminator or Total Recall). Even there wasn’t much artist to fan communication, it was clear that Pertubator motioning to the crowd with his arms to jump was enough to garner the cheers he wanted.
Listening to Pertubator gave me the idea that a lot of what he performs is either on or sounds like a lot of video game soundtracks. His sound was infectious and had the whole crowd dancing along with the tempo of his beat. Motioning to the crowd to bring it, there was on more than one occasion a crowd surfer in this tiny music venue. While there was two idiotic fans that went under the railing to try and join the artist on stage (who security removed pretty quickly from the stage) the crowd was overall happy and nearly as energetic as the sound Pertubator was producing.
Going off stage for a brief moment, the crowd started chanting “encore.” Coming back out for one last buzz of electricity Pertubator performed one last time for the Crowbar crowd. With an insane lightshow to match the sounds he was producing, he brought it all from start to finish.
Now although you might think that most of this genre is underground, it is massive throughout the European scene and is performed through other rock and metal bands like Van Halen, Children of Bodom and even Melbourne’s own Orpheus Omega. All three named bands above involve synth in one way or another. While synthwave wasn’t something I ever listened to, it’s an amazing spectacle to watch it performed live by acts like Pertubator. Through an amazing lightshow and the 80’s trance disco-esque vibe it brought, synthwave performed live is nothing short of a fun time, and should be seen by more and more people!
PHOTOS BY CHARLYN CAMERON