Atlanta’s Terminal West played host to one of the biggest synthwave shows to hit the southeast last night. Carpenter Brut brought his North American tour to the venue on a very cold Wednesday night, but the long line outside told the story of his popularity. But Carpenter Brut wasn’t the only act on this stellar card…Street Fever from Los Angeles was added to the tour when Le Matos was unable to finish due to a family emergency, and Vampire Step-Dad, Atlanta’s beloved paternal synthwaver, rounded out the show. So, how good was it? If you missed my live streams I strongly urge you to head over to my Twitter and check them out. I was able to record all three acts, and though I’m by no means a professional photographer, I do feel I captured the energy of the night.
Vampire Step-Dad kicked off the show and he did so to a much larger crowd than opening acts are usually accustomed to. Terminal West filled up quickly and the wise-cracking Vampire Step-Dad won the crowd over immediately. His set had stellar live drums, blistering guitar solos, and yes…he shredded it up on keytar as well. The crowd ate up the performance and the comments on my live stream were very positive as well. Vampire Step-Dad couldn’t have made a better debut than he did last night at Terminal West. I know for a fact he left with more fans than he started the day with. Thankfully he promised that if we didn’t tell mom he’d let us stay up and watch Carpenter Brut.
Street Fever followed and he shook the foundations of Terminal West with his hard hitting show. The Los Angeles native jumped on tour with Carpenter Brut on very short notice due to the emergency with Le Matos I mentioned earlier, but he really added to the power of the show. His blend of old school EBM hooks, bone shaking bass beats, and techno-punk appearance was an immediate hit with the audience. Whether he was jumping in the crowd to start a pit or spraying them with water bottles, Street Fever had the crowd hooked from the first note.
Carpenter Brut took the stage after an 80’s montage of music videos and Ghostbusters footage played on the big screen at the back of the stage. The roar of the crowd welcomed the man that has inspired an entire generation of synthwavers and was enough to give me chills. Without a word Carpenter Brut commanded the stage, his synths brought to life on stage with live drums and electric guitar. My ears are ringing today like I’d been to a metal show the night before. Anyone that misunderstood synthwave as a genre of keyboards and knobs getting turned got a full on rock show last night by all three of the acts, but Carpenter Brut closed the show with a gusto. It was the full experience of b-film grindhouse footage combined with a set list of some of the best synthwave songs on the scene.
But wait! There’s more!
In case you missed it, Vampire Step-Dad was living the dream last night. He opened for Carpenter Brut, and not only was it a success, he did it telling “dad” jokes and debunked the idea of “never meet your heroes.” Turns out that Vampire Step-Dad in person is just as likable and affable as his online presence that we all know and love. He was gracious enough to talk to Echosynthetic about the experience:
Echosynthetic: You did it! You opened for Carpenter Brut. How do you feel the day after?
VSD: Tired. I could really use a warm pint of red and a 3 day nap.
The crowd seemed to really dig it from the start, so that was good. I can’t unsee all my flubs and missteps, but people didn’t seem to mind too much.
Honestly, I’m still processing it all. In a month I managed to go from “I’ll never play live” to opening for the man who inspired VSD into creation. Live has been pretty surreal lately.
Echosynthetic: Your dad joke game was strong and the crowd loved you. Did that help calm your nerves?
VSD: Making people laugh is my defense mechanism. So yes.
Echosynthetic: The live stream of your performance on the Echosynthetic Twitter feed attracted more viewers than Carpenter Brut and Street Fever combined. What do you think about your online fan base?
VSD: I have the best family in the world. My phone never stopped vibrating yesterday, as I got well wishes from people all over the globe, rooting me on and wishing they could be there. I felt like half the internet was backing me up. My only regret was that I didn’t have time to respond to all the wonderful messages.
I really appreciate you streaming it so others could feel like they were there with us. I have video footage of the show that I’ll be editing and putting out, but I think the family abroad really enjoyed getting to experience it along with us here at home.
Echosynthetic: The live drums sounded great! Who was that performing with you?
VSD: Steve Volpert is a friend of mine with a long drumming history. He’s been so gracious with his time over the last month, learning my songs, and practicing with me, and putting up with a million technical difficulties as I figured out how to put this music on the stage. I’m so glad the drums sounded good. That was the hardest part of this whole endeavor, getting good sounding electronic drums that played in time. Sometimes I miss guitar amps and acoustic drumsets…
Echosynthetic: You shredded it on guitar and your freshly made keytar. How much practice time did you put in for the show?
VSD: One month. Being an “in-the-box” musician, who had no plans to ever play live, some of these parts I’d literally not played for 2 years. I had to relearn everything. Not only that, regular recording session files are not usable for live performance, so I had to reconfigure all that, and turn my recording software into live performance software. It was quite an undertaking.
The keytar was made literally 2 weeks ago. I made a dumb video about it here: https://twitter.com/VampireStepDad/status/838129784504868870 (Editor’s Note: The video is hilarious and highly recommended viewing!)
Echosynthetic: Who helped you out with the show? Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
VSD: My wonderful wife, Teresa, has put up with me talking about Vampire Step-Dad at almost every moment for the past 6 months, and she’s not left me yet. So huge thanks to her. She also made my life so much easier by handling all the merch for the show. (Second Editor’s Note: She was very nice. I bought the “Selected Works” CD and she tried to offer me everything else but I had to tell her I already had it all, even the vampire teeth. She was probably wondering who this weirdo was, haha!)
I had four friends filming: Juan Baez, Daniel Ernest, Amy Ashbaugh, and Ryan Miracle. They basically spearheaded that and let me not worry about it. I can’t wait to look through all the footage.
I got “how to do it live” help from d.notive, Night Stalker, and Volkor X. Wonderfully helpful people from our wonderful scene.
Randy and Nisa from Tight Bros, who let me open for Carpenter Brut. I still can’t believe I managed to get that slot.
Square Wave Clothing, for providing me with last-minute T-shirts to sell at the show.
And then the countless people online who’ve been rooting for me the past month. I can’t tell you how inspirational it’s been. Being able to share this journey with the family, having people to laugh, cheer, and cry along with me through the whole process of getting this show on the stage has been so special. I truly have the greatest family ever.
Echosynthetic: Do you plan to capitalize on the success of the show with more live performances?
VSD: Yes. This whole experience has been so eye-opening in regards to doing the things you want to do. Do stupid things like ask to open for Carpenter Brut, and then figure out the logistics LATER. Don’t worry about the HOW, just GO. Fail fast and frequently. And don’t just learn from the failures, glorify them, cause they are a sign that you are TRYING.
The Tight Bros have asked me to do another show for them, and the Media Relations head for Dragon*Con wants me to play at Dragon*Con this year. So yeah…I’ll be doing more shows.
Echosynthetic: What did you think about Street Fever and Carpenter Brut?
VSD: I missed a lot of Street Fever cause I was packing up my stuff, but it certainly sounded like he was keeping the crowd happy.
Carpenter Brut? Inspiring. Watching him up there, playing like a synth god, looking smooth as hell, having a grand time, taking the crowd on a journey, it was awesome. Plus, he played Paradise Warfare, so I can die happy now (Not that I can actually die, but you get the expression.) But Inspiring is the best thing I can say about it. I’m still kinda processing everything, and I don’t want to get too weird on you…but yeah.
Echosynthetic: Where did you get that awesome/terrible dad sweater?
VSD: I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I was wearing very fashionable attire on stage…
That’s what the hip kids wear these days, right?
Echosynthetic: Any parting words?
VSD: In the immortal words of St. Shia, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.” Do the thing you want to do. If someone won’t let you do it, find a way to do it on your own. Failing after trying is still a million times better than never trying at all. Failure is not nearly as bitter as regret.
But all that aside, THANK YOU to everyone that has supported me in any way. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it is to have the freedom to do what I love because I know people will support me doing it. You are a daily inspiration, and I cannot thank you enough.