Perturbator’s show in Stockholm registered a sold-out audience as many others did on this tour of the French musician. The Debaser, a venue with a capacity of around 800 people, was incredibly crowded and, by the time the headliner’s show started, it was hardly possible to move. While Synthwave is a sub-genre of Electronic music, its sound breached into the hearts of many metalheads, bringing artists like Perturbator and Carpenter Brut to many Metal festivals. It’s no surprise, then, that a large part of the audience is wearing t-shirts of Metal bands and sporting long hair.
Opening the concert was a band similar to the headliner in many ways, Dan Terminus. The one-man band is also French, is signed by the same label, Blood Music, started around the same time as Perturbator, in 2012, and plays a similar kind of music. Dan Terminus’s Synthwave is a bit heavier than his colleague’s and was a nice pairing to make the night varied while following a common theme, namely the love for synth-based music. While the venue is not completely full when Terminus gets on stage, his music is welcomed warmly with applause and some people starting to dance almost right away. Of course, as it’s almost inevitable with one-man bands playing synths, the situation on stage is quite static: Dan Terminus stands still behind his synths, sometimes waving at the crowd, but most of the times focused on his instruments. That, together with lighting not particularly memorable, makes the show a bit dull from the visual point of view. Luckily what really matters, the music is good and is appreciated by the audience which seems adequately warmed up by the 40-minute performance.
By the time Perturbator gets on stage the venue is completely packed and, when the lights turn off signaling that the show is starting, the audience erupts in a roar. James Kent gets on stage and positions himself behind his synths, while his live drummer sits behind his drum kit: the addition of a live drummer is a recent choice for Perturbator, until less than two years ago Kent played alone, and a choice that paid off as the live sound is now more massive and feels more “real”. The setlist is well mixed with the last album, New Model, being played in full, together with many songs from both Dangerous Days and The Uncanny Valley, as well as the recently released single “Excess”, the first song off of the next, still unannounced, album.
Being two on stage already adds to the visual side of the gig, but a big part to Perturbator’s shows have always been the lights: the light choreography is well crafted, almost a show within the show, a great experience which always makes his concerts memorable. The lights have probably been adjusted to the limited size of the stage, but they leave a mark anyway. The audience dances, jumps and even moshes at times, showing great enthusiasm to the powerful music of the French. Kent, a metalhead himself, recently let his hair grow, and he swings it often headbanging enthusiastically.
After about an hour the music stops and the musicians leave the stage, coming back a couple of minutes later to play the encore: after two songs, as the third and last one is starting, the left PAs malfunction and stop working. Some people look around puzzled, but most just keep headbanging to “The Cult of 2112” which, playing only on the right side of the hall, ends a very enjoyable night. Perturbator conquered Stockholm once again with a night of great, synth-powered fun.
All photos by Davide Sciaky