Neon Rhode Island: More than a Synthwave music festival

In exactly one week, you will be able to participate in a 3 day incredible music festival called Neon, in Rhode Island. Neon describes itself as a cutting-edge Synthwave music festival with a massively themed video arcade, cult and genre film festival, console gaming time capsule, and iconic guests and panelists. It’s a Retrofuturism love letter to late 20th century entertainment, an aesthetically and sonically immersive experience.

What is retrofuturism, though?

According to their website, Retrofuturism is a term coined in 1983, defined as “a revived enthusiasm for depictions of the future created in the past; also, the use of a style considered futuristic in the past.”

This enthusiasm for the future in a past aesthetic, it just so happens, is a perfect home for Cyberpunk as well, although Neon makes sure to distinguish between the genre we love and Retrofuturism at Neon.

It’s essence is Stranger Things, epic synths, midnight drives, obsolete tech, hard video games, faded summer polaroids, and neon-drenched danger. It’s flickering neon, killer robots, rain-soaked pavement, eternal sunsets, cyberpunk skylines, and obsolete technology.

This festival sounds like a retro gamer or cyberpunk fan’s dream. I so wish I could go, but unfortunately I’ve left the United States already and will be out of the country for quite a while.

Neon will have seventy-five 80s and 90s restored video game and pinball arcade cabinets, for hours of fun. It’ll have non-stop screenings of weird and terrible old movies. It’ll have workshops for electronic projects so you can learn how modular synths work. It’s discussions about the genre and what’s to look forward to. There will be a retro computing time capsule, and a LAN room. It’ll also have themed shopping, vendors, and artists, as well as a Yacht Rock lounge for when you need to ‘sail away from it all’.

Musical guests will include Waveshaper, Glitch Black, Protector 101, Rolly Mingwald, Neuron Spectre, Future Holotape, Dana Jean Phoenix, Let Em Riot, and more. Guests include cyberpunk illustrator and game designer Rob Shields

I’m not personally familiar with any of these artists, but the great thing about conventions is that it gives you the chance to discover new artists!

Neon will take place in the Crowne Warwick Plaza, not far from the airport.

The Neon team is led by Grant Garvin, a veteran of immersive events who always wanted to create a festival focusing on synthwave and nostalgic things. In 2013 he created a cyberpunk Synthwave event with Arcade High and Let Em Riot. Unfortunately, only 20 people showed up, indicating that the movement was still a bit premature. However, in subsequent years when Synthwave became popular with the likes of artists such as Perturbator, things have changed.

I can’t wait to see if Neon is a success, and if so (which I hope it will), what future conventions and festivals Garvin or others have in store.

To buy tickets and learn more about Neon Rhode Island, check them out here.

To read more about news of the event, check out this article from Vehlinggo here.

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