In the heart of the summer, on August 18th, 2023, music enthusiasts gathered at the Helsingin Juhlaviikot concert tent Huvila to witness an electrifying collision of two distinct yet harmonious genres – the high-octane hair metal explosion brought to life by Reckless Love followed by the mesmerising synthwave waves of Perturbator. This night was a celebration of the past and the future, a testament to the power of music to transport us through time.
Reckless Love Ignites the Stage
Kicking off the night was Reckless Love, a band that has wholeheartedly embraced the spirit of 80's hair metal and carried it into the modern age. The stage came alive with their high-energy performance, fueled by their latest album "Turborider". The album's blend of 80s-inspired soundscapes and video game-infused melodies was a perfect fit for the night's overarching theme. Lead vocalist Olli Herman, a familiar face also from the Local Band lineup, radiated pure joy on stage. His magnetic presence, combined with the guitar wizardry of Pepe Reckless, ensured that all eyes were glued to their dynamic performance.
Surprises were in store as well, as Olli Herman sported a shirt throughout most of the show – a rarity for him. However, true to the spirit of their music, the shirt was discarded during the final moments of their set, during the rousing anthem "Night On Fire". Reckless Love left the stage with a triumphant aura, having delivered a set that was pure, unadulterated fun from start to finish.
For enthusiasts of the dark and mysterious realm of synthwave, the highlight of the night was the appearance of Perturbator, the genre's iconic figure. This time, Perturbator was joined on stage by a live drummer, adding an extra layer of intensity to the already immersive experience. Having seen both acts on previous occasions, I anticipated a certain level of sonic and visual spectacle, but the night held a few unexpected surprises.
The light show accompanying Perturbator's set was nothing short of breathtaking, casting a pulsating sea of colours and patterns across the audience. However, the abundant use of strobe lights, particularly during the first half of the show, caught many concertgoers off-guard. While undeniably captivating, the relentless strobe lights combined with the venue's thick smoke occasionally obscured the artists on stage.
The only aspect that seemed to be missing was more direct interaction between Perturbator, also known as James Kent, and the audience. While Reckless Love showcased exceptional showmanship and audience engagement, Perturbator remained largely confined to his synth booth, unfortunately also during moments when his guitar riffs pierced through the melodies. This contrast in stage presence highlighted the diverse approaches of the two acts.
What truly stood out was the diverse crowd that had gathered under the concert tent, representing a growing community of synthwave enthusiasts. The genre, once a niche interest, had rapidly expanded in popularity, especially in Finland. It was heartening to witness the sea of eager fans who had come together to revel in the retro-futuristic soundscapes.
Having previously experienced Perturbator's presence at the metal festival Tuska 2022, the artist's versatile background in various black metal bands was evident. This unique blend of influences showcased his ability to traverse different musical terrains with confidence and flair.
Capturing the Moment through the Lens
As a photographer, I relished the challenge of capturing the essence of the night's performances through my lens. Yet, the combination of relentless strobe lights and thick smoke posed a unique obstacle. The visual spectacle was undeniable, but it also presented a daunting task in terms of achieving crisp focus and vibrant imagery.
While Perturbator's set was one of the most challenging performances I've encountered, I remain hopeful for future opportunities to capture his essence in a more visually coherent manner.
As the night came to an end, the memories of the Perturbator + Reckless Love show remained etched in the minds of all who attended. The collision of past and future, of synthwave and hair metal, created an intoxicating blend of nostalgia and innovation, reminding us that music has the power to transcend time, genre, and expectation.