It was Friday evening, the 25th of August, on Fountain Square. Hot, muggy, crowded and loud. People sipping beer and wine coolers, standing in clusters near the stage. The occasional jet of steam escaped the crowd from someone vaping. Anticipation hung in the air.
Black Signal, a local Daft-Punk-esque trio that won the 2014 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best Electronic Act, kicked off the evening. The two keyboardists and guitarist, all clad in leather jackets and obscured by blinking LED masks, looked and sounded like a future robot motorcycle gang. They shined teal, magenta and lime as a computer voice announced their songs and guest vocalists.
Following Black Signal was a Cincinnati duo described as an ‘80s revival project: Moonbeau. Made up of vocalist, songwriter and producer Christian Gough (also of Cincinnati's indie greats The Yugos) and vocalist Claire Muenchen, their sound would fit right in at a Tears for Fears concert, or on the radio following Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me.” On stage, Gough's rainbow pants and baritone crooning and Muenchen's flowery cape and vocal harmonies gave the band a dynamic look and sound, the perfect lead up to Com Truise.
As Moonbeau tore down, an average-looking guy took the stage. Taller, bearded and wearing a simple black T-shirt, the man helped the stage crew set up a folding table and some DJ equipment.
If you didn’t know what he looked like, you wouldn’t know that this was DJ pioneer Com Truise.
The first wave of sound struck the audience, sweeping everyone forward toward to the stage. Crisp and echoing synth and gated beats pulsed from the speakers. It’s exactly the catalyst the crowd was waiting for. Pitchfork calls this “the closest you can come to a TRON-like experience of total immersion,” and toward the front people were immersed, dancing in a smooth synth-driven rapture.
Com Truise, the stage name of electronic producer and DJ Seth Haley, is a one-man time warp to dark dance clubs in the ‘80s. While working within the classic sound of retro synth pop, he pushes the limit to what you can achieve in the genre. His three full-length albums are lyric-free, but in place of words is a dynamic melody that carries you through his music. It’s music that can serve as a backdrop to introspection or a driving beat to get down to. It’s like dancing to the soundtrack of an old Nintendo game.
Check out all three acts, Black Signal, Moonbeau, and Com Truise, and you’ll find yourself consumed by their old school, new-wave genius, too.