Pysk, System96, and BadNrad at Amsterdam Bar and Hall was an incredible concert. The night was filled with talented performances, new and unreleased material, and meeting the performers in an intimate setting.
The performances were a mix of electronic music with an 80s nostalgic sound to dark horror-like tracks, think a more complex and full-sounding songs than the soundtrack to Stranger Things.
Upon arriving, we were in for a few surprises. The line-up suddenly flip-flopped to make way for an impromptu performance. That made the way for Psyk to go on first and BadNrad to go on last to finish out the evening.
It signaled how strong & supportive the community is among the Synthwave performers. They work together and support each other’s new projects and collaborations. In fact, the talented Galaxy80 willingly played before the show even started! That alone was why I came before showtime.
Psyk started the night off strong to an excited but small crowd. Their cheers rang loud and clear and it made it much more of an intimate show.
Psyk continued with a self-proclaimed dark track to which we cheered on and danced to, invigorated by the heavy music. He played an unreleased track that had the audience pumped up. It was an obvious hit.
His songs are full of bold sounds that stretch from fast electronic music to the heavy synth and intense sounds of horror-tinged tracks.
Originally from Hawai’i, he flew in from Portland just for the show. He is well known for being multi-talented in different genres and projects. In fact, he has a hand in the Neon Rose festival every year in Portland. It has a lineup of the biggest synthwave acts, many of which have played in Minneapolis / St Paul.
System96 far exceeded my expectations for his live set. His ambient synthwave songs proved to be a mesmerizing and immersive experience live.
Coming from more of the lyric-heavy industrial side of electronic music to the lyrics-less synthwave genre, I was amazed at how immersive and fascinating it was live. The interwoven melodies invoke emotions without any vocals needed.
Partway through his set, System96 called out for Lucy in Disguise, who played last month. He looked up and acknowledged him but didn’t budge. The crowd encouraged him to get moving and cheered him on stage. The interactions between everyone made the night all the more special, even if some ideas didn’t work out as hoped.
System96 songs are neat and polished which creates a very impressive set. It’s not a lot of contrast like a typical EDM show of highs and lows. This created a particularly pleasant experience that is all-encompassing to the senses and was easy to keep dancing to.
On stage, he smiled at the audience numerous times, grinning and giving a shake of his head to the shenanigans to those yelling and cheering. In-person, he is friendly and personable.
System96 currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He is well known in the synth community and has a good chunk of listeners per month on Spotify.
SYSTEM96 and KNOFACE
The stage changed once again and this appeared to be the surprise we were promised. We saw System96 come on stage in the back, and a beanie-clad Psyk entered the stage to perform under his new synth, hip hop project KnoFace.
The audience seemed stunned at the switch. We watched hypnotized as he rapidly lyricized. Was the shock an impressed sort of reaction? Or was it too much for the synth crowd? I especially liked the intensity of his rapping over the synthwave tracks. I’d see it all again in a heartbeat.
KnoFace recently released V.T.W.A II with Lucy in Disguise.
BadNrad took the stage with an exclamation point. He had an 80s look with fantastically long hair and a tank top, completed with a pair of multi-colored hi-tops. Whether this was intentional or just a coincidence, we’ll never know, but I like the effect.
With the ultimate multi-tasking skills, BadNrad sang using his talkbox, played keytar, and fiddled with his knobs all while sensually tossing his hair back. His songs came fast and hard with varied effects changing throughout the performance. His music is a blend of electronic styles, leaning on the heavier side of synth. We craved more of his intoxicating vocals.
Nitrowave TC is putting on more Sythwave shows this fall! They will have concert listings on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.