Holy Ghost!'s Five Ways to Have a Great Synth-Pop Show

Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser of Holy Ghost!
Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser of Holy Ghost! Under The Gun Review

Let’s face it: Every city wishes it could claim to be a synth-pop hot spot. Urban hubs such as New York, Berlin and London have histories of producing high-profile artists that change the landscape of what the average dance night might sound like — but that's a relatively short list of cities.

Luckily for everyone else, great synth pop doesn’t have to reside in just a few hotbeds. Synth-pop duo Holy Ghost! played on Saturday at Ophelia's; the act shared with Westword five simple steps that can make any synth-pop show a great one.

High-quality instruments being put to good use. - TELEKOM ELECTRIC BEATS
High-quality instruments being put to good use.
Telekom Electric Beats
1. Access to Synths

Essential to the success of synth pop in any location is the ability for musicians to access high-quality synths. Synths aren't cheap, and not everyone has one. Unlike the acoustic guitar, high-quality synths probably aren't going to be found in every college dorm room. If you're trying to light the dance floor on fire, best come prepared.  

2. Players to play synths
Not only do you need a synth; you need somebody who can actually play it. Without that, a musician's kind of like the kid in middle school that had great kicks but was slow as hell. There's nothing worse than looking the part but not being able to play it. A city needs shredders.

3. Records
Without access to records, a synth player may not have the slightest idea of the rich, deep history of "synthing." Some people enjoy connecting with their parents over Three Dog Night records and mining for old gems at garage sales. That's one way to listen to records. But anyone serious about putting on a great-synth pop show should know who came before them and why they were amazing. William Onyeabor [R.I.P.] didn’t make nine-minute songs just to go unnoticed by young folks. 4. Power
What good is a CS80 in mint condition if you can't plug it in? No use, that’s what. Having access to power is overlooked, but completely non-negotiable. Have you ever been to a bar that’s run out of booze? It’s a total deal-breaker and mood-killer. The same goes for a synth-pop show without power. Don't be the band that forgets to check if it can plug its synths in. 5. Emotional Power
Okay, so you found the outlet, you located that perfect mono lead line, you even learned your history, and on top of that you practiced your scales. Good for you. Bravo. Mazel tov. But guess what, kids? All of that is rendered completely useless unless you have one thing: emotion. Here's a word to the wise: All you wannabe synthesists, find you some feelings first, and let them blaze out through the glory of your instruments. Good luck.
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Ben Wiese is a writer in Denver. He covers music for Westword.
Contact: Ben Wiese