On a cold Sunday evening, I had the pleasure to cover the final show of the “Leather Sacraments” tour by Perturbator and Carpenter Brut for Ghost cult magazine. Supporting them tonight is LA Hip-Hop outfit Ho99o9 (said: Horror). It promises to be an excellent night of dancing to retro synthwave of various forms. The 013 main hall is filling up quite well by the time I arrive. It seems the balcony is staying closed today, which allows for a more intimate feel for the entire show, even though it did not sell out.
Now as for Ho99o9, they were brand new to me, and I didn’t have expectations going in. A bit of an odd duck on the bill, the eclectic LA hip hop outfit combines samples of popular songs, dark beats and guitar riffs with a variety of rap and hip hop styles. At times the beats remind me a bit of Bong-ra, and at times I get some strange nu metal vibes too. The addition to the four rap artists of a live drummer is much appreciated. It’s a pity some of the excellent riffs the group has in their backing aren’t played live on guitar, but one can’t have everything. I’m no aficionado of the art of rapping, but what I heard I quite enjoyed. However for me the biggest throw was how short many of the tunes were and how the samples or clips of other songs caused a little bit of stylistic whiplash. I’m still not entirely sure what I think of the group, but it surely was different, and I may have to give them another listen.
Next up Carpenter Brut take the stage, and its clear this is the band many people wanted to catch. The vibe is excellent and the room filled to a nice capacity with just enough room to dance. As is tradition they play Backstreet Boys – “Backstreet’s Back” as the final venue tune before the band get on, which sets the tone for the show. Carpenter Brut (Franck Hueso) may be a mostly electronic synthwave act, but they always have their excellent live drummer (Florent Marcadet) and guitarist (Adrien Grousset), to add to the show. Additionally, they have all the lights, shooting all over the place. That intense show is honestly best appreciated from a bit more of a distance in the back. Sadly, none of the songs with vocals have them being performed live, but that would be difficult with the amount of guest vocalists the synthwave act have worked with. Notable songs played are of course ‘Le perv’ and ‘Turbo Killer’, though in general the set goes down well as a mix of newer and older work. When they launch into their cover of ‘Maniac’ by the end of the set, the room goes wild. I spotted several crowd surfers from my vantage point in the back, and a lot of dancing.
After a changeover that saw quite the construction project to erect the impressive light and metal set piece for Perturbator (James Kent), we get onto the final act of the show. Where Carpenter Brut has a more knight rider vibe to their synthwave, Perturbator’s work has always been a little darker and grimier. The latest album, Lustful Sacraments was a bit of a departure from the more dystopian, Sci-Fi beat driven works before, and leans more into the cinematic and occult, even adding vocals by Kent himself. The first half of the set leans more heavily on this latest release work. Opening the show with ‘Excess’, I’m glad to say these vocals are done live, but the live drums snare at times distract a bit from the more atmospheric nature of this and other songs from the same album. However we do get treated to old favorites like ‘she Is Young, She Is Beautiful, She Is Next’, ‘She Moves Like A Knife’, and of course ‘Venger’ in the same setlist, where the live drums add an appreciated extra layer. Show elements wise Kent takes to vocals and guitar behind his Synth array, and shows he’s very capable of tossing his hair about. The previously mentioned large set piece with a pentagram in it’s center that lights up is an excellent background to the dystopian, futuristic and even somewhat occult dark Synths we’ve come to love from Perturbator, with a memorable moment being the light array shining through the pentagram like a dystopian searchlight, while the rest of the room is smothered in utter darkness. The crowd clearly enjoy this set as well, though the lack of crowd surfers indicate excitement was a smidge higher for Carpenter Brut.
In conclusion a great night of dancing, with a quaint new discovery I’ll be unpacking for a while, a very strong Carpenter Brut set, and a solid offering from Perturbator, we got to dance the night away on a sunday evening in a weirdly both futuristic and retro fashion. If you ever have a chance to see any of these acts live and you like to get on your dancing shoes, I highly recommend them.
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WORDS AND PHOTOS BY SUSANNE A. MATTHIUS