Concert Review | 100 Gecs


Luke Adams, Host of Terminally Online

It’s hard to truly articulate the cultural distance between this moment and the release of 100 Gecs’ 2019 debut 1000 Gecs. When the duo of Laura Les and Dylan Brady first dropped the tape, it was a surefire way to get the AUX taken away: a shrill mix of hyperactive pop music — colloquially dubbed “hyperpop” —  pop-punk, glitch and even ska crammed into a pucker powder tube. Led by a distinctly in-your-face style of autotune, comparisons to both Parry Gripp and Kesha in her dollarsign-for-an-S era ran abound. But by some miracle, within two years, they’ve become unstoppable. An entire scene has developed around them, comprising everyone from club pranksters like food house to artists like underscores who molded this aesthetic into something leaner and rockier. The 2020 remix album 1000 Gecs And The True of Clues brought everyone from Fall Out Boy to Black Dresses into their fold, brilliantly recontextualizing this material like never before. And now, with the announcement of a follow up out next year entitled 10,000 Gecs, the duo made a stop at the Majestic Theater on their preliminary tour. I simply couldn’t resist.

The energy of this show was palpable before the Gecs even came on. DJ Alice Gas hyped the crowd up with an energetic set of happy hardcore bangers which turned the pit into a full-on rave. I’ve never quite seen a crowd hyped up for an opener like this,  The fact that she dropped her new album Hardcore Heaven that evening intensified the feeling that this show was some sort of event. As the set came to a close, I got the feeling that the crowd was wired up to explode during the headliner.

When the band finally came on, they arrived with the force of a steam train busting through their signature pixelated red-brick wall. They opened with a song fans have dubbed “Hey Big Man,” a rap-rock barn-burner that confirms for the second time this year that they’re not that far apart from nu-metal either. The song is aggressive, but also patently silly. There are bars about macking on a hater’s mom, smoking an ounce out of somebody’s windpipe, and my favorite: “Oh you’re saying I’m dumb? Buddy, shut your piehole. Potato on the gun, look like fries through your eyehole.” The pit went nuts, and it only got more insane as they shifted into fan favorite “Stupid Horse.” Dylan and Laura were able to bring a mighty ruckus almost instantly.

This was far from a flashy show technically, but they did manage to tease out a great deal with what they were given. Most of the magnetism was generated by just Dylan, Laura, and a laptop — which in their hands was more than enough. Still, there were a few quirks: one segment consisted of them playing light percussion instruments on the ground, eventually hitting the instruments so hard that their mallets broke. Dylan Brady’s combination of a mesh shirt, one of his patented wizard hats and his beamed eighth note tattoo make for both a fashion war crime and one of the more memorable band fits in recent history. Meanwhile, in a very rare display of on-stage jamming, Laura dealt some sludgy riffs on a jazzmaster for the new song “one million dollars.”

Speaking of which, this is the 10,000 Gecs tour, which means a greater emphasis on unreleased material that could eventually make up the album. (The band say that they scrapped the original album and have since recorded around 4,000 demos). “757” is a hypersonic banger with a melody so dizzyingly sweet that if you can’t make out what Dylan is saying, you’ll at least be humming the melody all day. “Billie Knows Jamie” reminds me of the already iconic opening verse from “money machine”, as it winds through a caricature of an edgelord who even has tattoos that say “Fuck you” and “Coked out” on his eyelids. The standout track for me was “fallen 4 Ü,” a song that was previously debuted at the Minecraft-based music festival Square Garden. It’s the closest thing out of this material to a punk song, hinging on what sounds like an EDM synth mixed with a bitcrushed guitar tone. Lyrically, it’s a great continuation of the clumsy lovesickness that was on “gec 2 ü” and “hand crushed by a mallet”: of falling in love in a mosh pit while your keys fall out of your pocket, your phone shatters, you walk out covered in sweat and pick it all up to try again next week.

I don’t want to call it this soon, but the new material that the Gecs played sounded better than anything off of their debut. I liked 1000 Gecs, but these songs have distilled the appeal of that album while cutting off a lot of the gristle. If their intention was to make an album “ten times as good,” this is the most direct way. Moreover, it also confirms a belief I’ve held since the beginning: that beneath the memes, the out-of-pocket sense of humor, and the irony-poisoned question of whether they’re joking or not, there is a serious artistry to what they’re doing. The biggest surprise for me is that while Gecs are now one of the most innovative groups in pop music, they might also turn out to be more enduring than previously thought.

The most standout moment in the entire show for me came in a package seemingly uncharacteristic of the band: an acoustic ballad version of “gecgecgec”. The original song is kind of hard to pin down, seemingly shifting into a different idea about every few seconds until finally breaking into a recognizable melody. The difference in this version was so stark that nobody in the crowd realized what was going on until a few words in. Stripped down to just two guitar lines and the band’s autotuned polyphony, the emotion of this song becomes a lot more accessible. This was a lighters-out moment if there ever was one.

Still, for all the live teases and new takes on old favorites, the duo knows for sure how to play to their crowd. The encore might’ve scratched a few heads with “What’s That Smell?” — which sounded like a Tyga song made from the Earthbound soundboard — but then brought down the roof with a finale of “800db cloud.” Even after everything, this song is still a monster. It’s ultimately the key to 100 Gecs’ whole shtick: the feeling of dancing, kicking and screaming through some of the loudest synths imaginable, eventually breaking into something even more shrill and metallic. Instead of feeling exhausted, everyone in that pit walked out feeling more alive than before. That’s a rare gift, and something that I hope the duo will continue to cultivate on bigger and weirder spectacles in the future.