Live Report: Perturbator

Perturbator // House of Blues New Orleans, New Orleans (US)
Words & Photos: Teddie Taylor

When it was announced that Perturbator was performing in New Orleans, I was skeptical of the turnout. An electronic artist whose sounds stray from the popular college EDM scene, his music transports listeners to a Terminator-like world that is dark, cinematic and full of twists and turns. As I ascended the stairs to the venue, I half-dreaded a bare room because of the simultaneous Superjoint tour that was playing next door. All of my worries were washed away, though, because the room was packed.

Perturbator (aka James Kent) could easily have gone unnoticed in the crowd of the concert adjacent to his own. Clad in black with tattoos peeking from beneath his sleeves and a hood over his head, his synthwave soundscapes and ominous aesthetic attracts a majorly electronic, industrial and metal loving crowd. Rather than simply building to a climactic drop, Perturbator tells stories; if you closed your eyes, it was easy to envision the plot of a correlating sci-fi thriller set in an eternally bleak, rainy city of neon lights and seedy gangsters clad in floor-length leather coats. Along with synth contemporaries Carpenter Brut and S U R V I V E, Perturbator’s music harkens to the 80s but is firmly rooted in the future.

From the very first second, the noise was deafening. The recorded versions of his tracks are only a fraction of what the live experience entailed; flashing lights that blinded as the tempo increased, the crowd illuminated by a sheath of blood red when slow, intensity was called for… It invoked movement in everyone, even if it was just a tapping foot, and took over the entirety of your thoughts. The assumption is always that electronic musicians do not actually recreate their music when they perform live; however, Perturbator rarely looked up from his synthesizers and technological tools. He was completely enthralled in the world that he was building–as was the rest of the room.

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