NEON Retrofest 2020, A Complete Primer

It’s official, NEON Retrofest once again is a go. On August 28th-30th they will be rebooting their massive retro and synthwave festival. Here's what we know so far....

February 17, 2020

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It’s official, NEON Retrofest once again is a go. On August 28th-30th they will be rebooting their massive retro and synthwave festival and I for one couldn’t be more excited.

NEON Retrofest 2020 announcement trailer

Latest News and Updates:

2-24-2020: NEON Retrofest just announced that they will be announcing their wave 2 artist lineup this week. Look forward to this space to get all the up to the minute news

What is NEON Retrofest?

NEON Retrofest is a love letter to the past, from the future. It’s a retro renaissance. It combines all the things we loved growing up and offers a way for true retro fans to come together to share their common passion.

Featuring everything from music, to games, to movies and panels, NEON Retrofest blends all of these things into one giant event and in the process, has become a homecoming of sorts. For anyone new to the scene, you're going to definitely want to check this out. For those that have already experienced this wonderful festival, it's time to come home.

NEON Retrofest combines several elements of the retro scene and places them all on the floor for an all you can eat three-day extravaganza. Here’s everything we know about the festival so far:

The Arcade Room

What’s a retro festival without an arcade room. While some arcades might be nestled in some remote cramped dark corner, the arcade at NEON takes center stage, quite literally! Last time it was situated directly across from the stage with the only thing separating it was a packed dance floor. You can literally listen to outrun while at the same time playing Outrun. Best of all, everything is on free play! No quarters required.

NEON 2018 featured over 70 vintage arcade games

The Aesthetic Lounge (formally the Yacht Rock Lounge)

In 2018 Croma Council was the amazing team behind the design of NEON’s best chill spot known as the Yacht Rock Lounge. Now rebranded as The Aesthetic Lounge, you can expect the same chill atmosphere but as the name might suggest, I'm hoping it's going to have a little more of a Vaporwave motif this time around. Of course, this is only my best guess and to truly experience the a e s t h e t i c, you’ll just have to come to see it for yourself.

More on Chroma Council:

Who will be playing the event and why I’m excited.


When it comes to classic synthwave, there are very few artists that can deliver that high gear outrun sound than this Pennsylvania native. Get ready for some high octane outrun.

Why I’m excited:
Betamaxx was a surprise guest at NEON 2018. While his performance was great, I’m excited to see what he brings to the table now that he is properly on the bill.

Betamaxx at NEON Retrofest 2018 (Image courtesy of Danny Bourque)

Arcade High

As someone who has seen them play live three times already, let me just say that with Arcade High, you're in for a real treat. They dropped a killer album last year and if their music doesn’t get you, their stage performance surely will. Prepare to tie that bandana headband extra tight when these two hit the stage.

Why I’m excited:
Seriously, Arcade High is just amazing fun. The energy Ryan and Patrick bring to the stage is unreal. Once they deliver that synchronized volley of bleeps and bloops you're going to need to take a breather.


One of the most unique, talented and respected artists in the scene, Duett is a genre-spanning good vibe generating masterwork of an artist. When I like to set a mellow mood for the evening, you better believe I’m throwing on something from Duett. I’m really excited to see what Duett brings to the stage.

Why am I excited:
Duett’s sound takes me to a calming place that not many artists can take me to. While I have no idea what to expect you better believe I’ll have a Pina Colada in my hand when they take the stage.

Von Kaiser

It’s hard to find a synthwave fan that doesn’t love Von Kaiser. I have been singing their praises since I heard their first cut. This triple threat from Michigan absolutely lives to play live on the stage. With David’s and Kaylin’s harmony, antics, and polished stage show, you will certainly want to be right there centerstage to soak it all in.

Why I'm excited
For me, Von Kaiser represents a band that checks all the boxes for me. Powerful nostolsic song writing, check. Fun personalities, check. Amazing vocal synthwave, check. The only thing I haven't checked off is having seen them live.

To find out how much fun these guys are check out the Von Kaiser takeover episode of The State of Synth.

Kaylin and David from Von Kaiser

Lucy In Disguise

This is an artist that I have featured on several of my shows including Synthwave on the Fringes. Lucy In Disguise is another one of those genre-blending projects that I just can’t get enough of. His latest album steered straight into synthwave territory and I am super excited to hear him bring that glorious warm retro sound to NEON 2020.

Why am I excited:
Lucy in Disguise is just so wonderfully produced. He is one of those acts I thought I'd never get to see live. Thankfully NEON Retrofest is making this a reality.

For more on Lucy In Disguise, check out his Artist AMA on Reddit outrun.

Vampire Step-Dad

Of all the synthwave artists I even know, I have never seen an artist that sinks their teeth into their own mythology than Vampire Step-Dad. From Atlanta Georgia, Vampire Step-Dad is just plain fun. For the sound think 80’s cop sitcom show with a light splattering of vampire blood with lots of synth backing. It’s a unique, campy, bad sweater of a good time.

Why I'm excited:
Not only am I a fan of his music, but Vampire Step-Dad’s merch game is the stuff of legends. By the end of the performance, I fully expect to be physically and monetarily drained.

Vampire Step-Dad (Image courtesy of Danny Bourque)

Mecha Maiko

Having played NEON Retrofest 2018, Mecha Maiko is no stranger to the festival scene. Her performance last time brought Dana Jean Phoenix to the stage as well. This time around, it’s anyone’s guess what kind of surprises she’ll have in store. One thing for sure is her high energy bangers will surely be a hit on the dancefloor.

Why I am excited:
I hold a special place in my heart for the creative direction of Mecha Maiko. While most of her songs are consistent dance floor bangers, she is not afraid to color outside of the lines as evident in her Okiya EP.

Mecha Maiko at NEON Retrofest 2018 (Image courtesy of Danny Bourque)

Watch Out For Snakes

Are you ready for some chiptune? Be prepared for that and much more. Watch Out For Snakes delivers a mean chipwave hybrid sound that's certain to cause a little chaos on the dancefloor. Recently coming off a major tour with Glitch Black and Gregorio Franko, be ready to get a little physical when you see this one-man keytar weilding gunslinger.

Why I am excited:
What's not to love about WOFS? He combines everything I love about synthwave in one amazing experience. See ya in the mosh pit!

Watch Out For Snakes (Image courtesy of Danny Bourque)

What's the lowdown?

The festival will take place on August 28th-30th at the Crown Plaza in Warwick Rhode Island. We highly recommend reserving a room as once you do, you will have 24/7 access to the festival. There is no driving back. You’re right there. Once the days events are over you can also hop over to the game room which will runs games throughout the night and into the morning. When it’s time to crash, you literally step into the elevator and retire for the evening.

Crowne Plaze in Warwick, RI

When can I get tickets?

Well, now! Seriously, this is not going to be one you wanna miss. You can grab your tickets here:

Follow NEON 2020 on facebook and Twitter

Authors note: This article will be continually updated as new information becomes available. Check back to stay in the know about everything NEON Retrofest.

Dennis G

Published February 17, 2020

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