Ghösh, the Philadelphia duo comprising Symphony Spell and Zachary Fairbrother, came together in 2018 when they both worked at the same pizza joint. The two bonded during a company meeting regarding a two-star review left by a customer disgruntled by Zach’s habit of playing Korn at an ungodly volume to chase customers out at closing time. Pizza, petulant noise, the customer being wrong as hell: the holy trinity of rock ’n’ roll, and everything in between. Ghösh are a band so genre-fluid/genre-fucked/post-genre that there’s a variety of jokes to be made about replacing gender and genre—and they are all accurate and annoying. Still, to call them “digital nü-jungle cybernetic hardcore future punk” could be adequate, but also of little importance. What matters is that the music they make—fast and angry anthems for victory and defeat, love and loss, potentially all in the same night—is part of a vital wave of vintage-viewing, fate-seeking cyberpunk. (Imagine if the video for Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” had been about doing hot girl shit as opposed to, you know, being an abusive creep.) Ghösh are, in many ways, a ’90s conception of the future from a time when everything—from the first three Busta Rhymes albums to the hardly necessary Aerosmith-composed Revolution X arcade game—came to predict that some post-Y2K AI authoritarian regime would overthrow the analog authoritarian Clinton administration, outlawing freedom. Or at least the X Games.

When I meet Ghösh at a nightclub in NYC, I’m relieved to learn that Symphony describes her band’s vibe as “a videogame about, like, a delivery roller skater.” Kismet, because the only thing I’ve managed to write in my pre-interview notes is “Jet Grind Radio,” a Sega Dreamcast game from the year 2000 about roller-skating vandals.

The duo are in their street clothes (tie-dye, ’90s baggy accoutrements, bright yellows, layers), before they’ll change into their stage outfits of overalls, mixed patterns, and circus-spirit madness. It’s my first time meeting Zach, and it’s been years since I last hung out with Symphony. We both came up in mid-2010s New York City punk, tangential to the nightlife scene, a space not known for prioritizing any kind of individualism that risked seeming uncool. Then and now, she’s always stood out as blissfully unapologetic for her passions.

Since I last saw her, there’s been a pandemic. Ghösh played a few stadium shows with My Chemical Romance and signed to Ramp Local (their debut LP is out this year). I’ve gotten facial feminization surgery, and everyone’s wearing Tripp pants again. This moment is the closest I will get to feeling like we’re in the future. Aside from the next moment, as that’s how the future works.

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