If the first day of Human Music was a sprint, with a start time of 7:30pm and an end time of just before 2am, then the second and last day was a marathon. Starting at 4:30pm, and getting out once again just before 2am, the last half of the two day festival was, in many ways, bigger, longer, and uncut. So, in the interest of not wasting any more time, let’s dive straight in:
Kicking off the second day was Aeon Rings and, like many acts during this festival, I was kicking myself for not knowing them beforehand. Aeon Rings, to me, is one of those synthwave acts that not only sounds like they’re actually from the 1980’s, but they have the look and stage presence. It was like a modern step back in time.
The lead singer especially, dressed all in black with sunglasses to match, has a voice that reminds me of many acts from the original new wave era and the way he dances around, owning the stage and commanding your attention, is up there with the best of them. Also, I would be remiss in not mentioning the equal talent of their synth player, even if I was remiss in getting a picture of them, but do need to at least acknowledge their overall contribution as well.
Following that duo was another duo, Skeleton Hands, who brought to the stage their own unique brand of “coldwave,” which is their self-described style of an upbeat yet also dark and haunting sound. With one member on backup and another doing triple duty of vocals, guitar, and synth work, Skeleton Hands casted a spell over the crowd but especially me. I look forward to hearing more.
Keeping the duos rolling, the next act was Arcade High, with their chiptune and synthwave infusion. If ever there was a group that melds together the two genres perfectly, and is living proof of my belief in how close said genres really are, it would be Arcade High. They really got the crowd going with their set, by getting into the music themselves, and then releasing that infectious energy.
Speaking of releasing energy, the next act was a wild one in the form of Street Fever, an unpredictable force of nature that could not be contained. Mike, my synthfam in arms who was doing some reporting for Seattle Synth, said before his set that we wouldn’t know what hit us. He was right.
While Street Fever‘s set started with some deeply melodic darkwave, complete with a few songs done in accompaniment to an impressively talented female vocalist, it was the end of his set that that fulfilled Mike’s prophesy.
Street Fever began to thrash about, destroying part of his own set, before jumping into the crowd and bumping into people like a once chained animal now in the wild and on the hunt. I myself got a nice shoulder tackle. However, no real damage was done and the crowd ate it up, so that’s all that matters.
Next up was yet another duo in the form of TEEEL, featuring a solid accompaniment of guitar and synth work, together bringing a mixture of high energy and smooth sounds during their set. They remind me a lot of another act, Retroglyphs, in that they have that retro sound about them while keeping it modern as well in a complete synthpop package. They’re the kind of band that I could have totally seen playing at a high school prom back in the 1980’s due to their ability to produce various sounds ranging from the upbeat to the slow dance variety. Either way, they know how to get a crowd moving.
Following them were the duo known as Night Club who, I will admit, I mostly knew beforehand for doing the theme song to the short-lived 1980’s themed animated series “Moonbeam City.” Therefore I was really excited going into the show to see what else they had to offer and, not only was I pleasantly surprised, but I was blown away. They know how to work a crowd for one thing.
Secondly, and most importantly, their songs are infectious with catchy hooks and lyrics that are fun to sing along with as well. Total class acts at the top of their game with a synthpop styling that is second to none.
Speaking of an act at the top of their game, following them was Bit Shifter, one of the premiere chiptune acts who deals in a three-way Game Boy assault. Now, I won’t pretend to know anything in terms of how utilizing Game Boys to produce music works, but what I can tell you is how fascinating it was to watch Bit Shifter work his magic. Switching cartridges in and out of Game Boys in the middle of songs, pressing buttons and inputting commands, all with lightning fast reflexes. It just showed that, yeah, he’s been doing this for a lot longer than most but even still he hasn’t lost a beat; he controls it like a microchipped maestro.
Up next was someone that really needs no introduction: GosT. Quite possibly one of the biggest acts that was there, due to the fact that the crowd really crammed in as close as possible for him, it was an interesting road to this experience for me. Up until this point I had never seen him live, but not from lack of trying, as I had unfortunately missed his last show in Boston.
Therefore I was really excited for his portion of the show and, as fate would have it, my waiting was rewarded in the oddest of ways. As often happens at any show, you find yourself standing in one spot and then, as people cram in around you and shuffle around you start to drift a little bit from your original spot.
Somehow, in all this shuffling, I went from being just off to the left of the stage to standing on the small staircase leading up to the stage! I could not have been more than five feet away from GosT, and with such a vantage point I was able to take tons of amazing pictures, but perhaps none better than the one you see now. I just love how it looks like he’s staring straight at me, shoulder on his synth, giving me a bit of a shrug in the process. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
And so we come to the end of Human Music, the last act of the last night, none other than Dance with the Dead. With an equal mix of being behind the table, laying down the beats, and out in front wailing on the guitar, they absolutely killed it and destroyed whatever remained of Human Music. It’s been a long time since I really let loose and headbanged, but Dance with the Dead had my neck snapping back and forth like the old days, and even though I felt it in the morning I was still left with a smile on my face.
They also had a few surprises up their sleeves in the form of two covers, one of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” during the middle of their set, and Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” as their encore. Now, I’m not usually one for covers, but they did them justice and made them their own and you know you’re doing something right when the crowd sings along to your rendition; Dance with the Dead had the crowd eating out the palm of their hands. This was also their first ever show on the East Coast, so here’s hoping they come back…
Perhaps at Human Music 2? Hmm…
Post Credits Scene: Not mere days after the conclusion of Human Music 2017, over on the official Facebook event page, the official account of QXT said that Human Music 2018 has already been given the green light! If this year’s event was any indication, next year is sure to be just as awesome if not better, and you can bet that I will be back there once again for coverage! I can only hope that many more acts will get the chance to be noticed but, at this time, there are no further details other than the knowledge it will be happening.
That said, stay tuned for more information, as I will be sure to keep you updated!