A night of synthpop at Pegasus

With keytars, electric viola, electric drum pad in tow, Freezepop’s Saturday concert couldn’t have been anything other than a study in synthetic fun. The small club was packed with a young crowd, many of whom made an interesting addition to the synthpop theme with their Pegasus-standard pleather jumpsuits and fairy costumes.

Local opener Pfunkt (Alex Burkat, a DJ at University of Pittsburgh) started off the show with a set that sounded a lot like the Beastie Boys spliced with the amazing cheesiness of SNL parody songs. Happily, lyrics like “ain’t no past participles/ I want that a$$ pronto/ rollin’ with my honeys / ridin’ in my Dodge Durango” and numerous others worked with a backdrop of Chuck Norris rock-climbing videos and slides proclaiming “SEXERCISE!” Burkat also showed some spirit by jumping into the crowd.

Boy in Static, who is on the road with Freezepop, was touring with only two members of the larger, six-person band. The electric, synthesized sound from the band’s albums did not translate well into the live performance, which was more like pop-rock. Still, Boy in Static’s lyrics define the band’s style, building elaborate and creative stories based on their wild and crazy experiences.

The band was a perfect opener for Freezepop, serving as a toned-down version of the electronic sounds and effects to come. The group’s energy pervaded the music, making the performance fun and lively. One distraction was the potentially dynamic electric viola, which, used for short staccato and abbreviated harmonies like it was, came off as little more than a synth.

Freezepop put on crowd-pleasing set, despite the fact that the band was one man down: Kasson Crooker (a.k.a. “the Duke”) was back in the band’s hometown of Boston, with hints that he’s working on a new video game sequel — Crooker has worked on a number of PlayStation 2 games, and often includes Freezepop’s music in the soundtracks. The band’s other two curiously named members, Liz Enthusiasm and Sean Drinkwater, held down the fort along with two substitute members, Crème Brulée and Seth Damascus-Kennedy.

The Freezepop scene was reflective of the group’s hectic style, as rowdy, beat-bopping teens and adults alike grooved to the sounds of the keytar. Band members jumped into the masses of sweating jivers, encouraging the crowd to get crazy. Heads banged, people “rocked,” and flashing lights turned the scene into quite the psychedelic night.

Freezepop’s sound is a satisfying and dancy mix of ’80s pop and more modern electronic sounds. On their MySpace page, the band styles their sound as, “kinda like kraftwerk/ meets ladytron/ who dates abba/ who spoons with takako minekawa/ whose parents are the human league.” And that’s pretty apt.

Even when Liz Enthusiasm said that they were going to “slow it down”, Freezepop’s slower, more serious songs came off the same as all the others, which was fine, considering the atmosphere at Pegasus. One long-time fan, while sidling off the packed dance floor, condensed the concert nicely: “Freezepop shows are always crazy.”

The crowd waited patiently for the band’s Guitar Hero hit, “Less Talk, More Rokk” and was not disappointed. In addition to Guitar Hero 1 and 2, Freezepop has worked on the games FreQuency, Amplitude, Anti:Grav, and now Phase and RockBand. They are at the forefront of an interesting niche: electronic, virtual-performance pop/rock.

Pegasus did an excellent job with the show. The lighting was well done, especially for Freezepop’s set, and some of the best parts of the show were the filler music between sets, when Pegasus pumped out more clubby toe-tappers.