It was a gathering of the clans of sorts at Max Watts in Melbourne last night for the sophomore tour of the mighty dark electro Synthwave king Perturbator from France. The first Oz tour being 2018. There were metalheads in abundance, alongside hawaiian shirts wearers, ravers, businessmen and women in suits and a few older attendees who were all there to soak up their sweat and adrenaline emanating widelythroughout the audience of Perturbator. And what a damn special evening it was! Opening for Perturbator was Melbourne thrashers Witchgrinder. While I think that late eighties / early nineties thrash has its place in the curriculum of no frills heavy metal it is absolutely better left there I’m sorry to say!
Witchgrinder play text book thrash with a smattering of industrial, (Insomuch as they include samples for a few of their tracks) and last nights crowd of attending metalheads enjoyed the feverish show that Witchgrinder performed. Having made their mark throughout their decade in existence they put on a tight show in both Witchgrinder and their fans were as thankful for seeing them warm up the stage for Perturbator.
At 10pm the evening belonged to James Kent aka: Perturbator. In just seven years he has become a name synonymous with synthwave. Spawning scores of newcomers jumping onto the dark electronic bandwagon Perturbator’s already eight release strong catalogue leaves wannabe’s behind for dead. Both himself and his accompanying drummer step upon their podiums ready to hypnotise and mesmerise this eager crowd. Kicking off the evening perfectly opening proceedings with “Birth Of The New Model” off his latest release New Model then diving straight into the crowd favorite “Neo Tokyo” from 2016’s The Uncanny Valley.
Let it be known folks that if you’re reading this and are as yet unfamiliar with the work of Perturbator he has managed to bring together a vast and diverse crowd of varied listening tastes into his lair of fans. So regardless of whether you’re a metalhead or weekend rave fanatic there’s an unlikely union between us which is one that totally surprised me when I fell in love with the genre and expanded my listening tastes. It is a blend of everything that both captivated and moulded me to an extent in the late eighties and early nineties yet expanding it’s formula, focus and intent to something larger than the world we inhabit. Every 8bit nintendo game you played, every trash teenage movie you watched and bought the soundtrack to, all in one neat killer package courtesy of James Kent.
Tonight’s torrent of feelings, movements, sweat and togetherness revolved around so many aspects. The killer light show that at times blinded my face synchronizing with the flow of music, feelings and emotions of the audience took the performance to another level. Never a word is exchanged between Kent and his audience and nor does there need to be! There is a clear known unspoken love between the two and any unnecessary chit chat would interfere with our hour and fifteen minutes together. Now I absolutely must discuss Kent’s inclusion of a live drummer. This relatively new decision by Perturbator to add that very important element to his impressive live show just brings a whole new incredible facet to his repertoire and a genius tactical move on James’ behalf. Whilst it would be an effort to programme the drums and rely on only his synth’s to entertain an audience for the evening it was next fucking level special to watch a metronome known as a drummer precisely accompany and wittingly compliment and perfectly sync with the heartbeat Perturbator’s music.
Playing songs off every Perturbator release last night, it was clear that there were zero highlights or lowlights. The evening was a celebration of union and bonding of people moving in unison to a beat that satisfies and binds us all through movement in music and sharing of sweat. Closing the night with “Perturbator’s Theme” (Dangerous Days – 2014) and “The Cult Of 2112” (The Uncanny Valley – 2016) the sold out crowd left Max Watts glistening with sweat and smiles grateful to be mesmerised by Perturbator for the second time in Australia in as many years.