By Benjamin J.N. Harrison
For the past couple years, I have been observing the expansion of a certain crop of musicians embracing a hyperfuturistic, synthetically texturized, and surreal take on electronic pop. Akin to the early 20th-century European Dadaists, artists such as Charli XCX, Dorian Electra, and any involved with PC Music, have found a way to manipulate a widely enjoyed form of art into a spectacle of absurdity and exaggeration, often to the point of senselessness. Inspired heavily by cyberculture, the vocals of such music are often pitch-shifted ad nauseum, exhibiting intense femininity and significant distortion – a feature which, to many, is an immediate turn-off, but which has nonetheless cemented itself deep into the hearts of millions of freaks, such as myself.
An emerging project, which I would associate loosely with the previously mentioned artists, but hesitate to definitively give label to, is 100 Gecs: a duo consisting of eccentrics Laura Les and Dylan Brady. It was only a month ago when I stumbled upon their most popular track, “money machine”, while exploring YouTube for new music discoveries. The track begins with Les rapping, criticizing a certain “piss baby” with a small truck and even smaller arms. The track then descends, or perhaps ascends, into an abrasively autotuned exhibition of vanity, with Les screaming about how she feels “so clean like a money machine”. The track’s influences are extremely diverse, blending elements of pop-punk, emo rap, bubblegum bass, deconstructed club, and metal into one beautiful catastrophe.
Naturally, I was intrigued; I listened to their debut project, 1000 Gecs, immediately after my discovery, and was extremely impressed. While certain tracks off the album exist perhaps purely for novelty, their flexible, mishmashed sound is insane and catchy enough to get one addicted – at least, that was the case for me. I find it hard to go a day without having my ears terrorized by the ska-inspired hook of “stupid horse”, or the maximalist distortion of “800db cloud”; needless to say, my newest obsession had arrived.
Last night, I was lucky enough to see the duo perform live, as the opening act for the now-beloved, self-proclaimed boyband, Brockhampton. While Brockhampton’s music is worth attention, I am certain they will be getting more than enough of it throughout their Heaven Belongs to You tour, and I would thus like to shift my scrutiny instead to 100 Gecs.
Before the duo even began performing their first song, there was already a prevalent air of strangeness: decorating the stage was a lonely pine tree; Dylan nonchalantly walked on stage wearing a hat similar in style to the sorting hat from the Harry Potter series, complemented by wide-leg trousers and a Gaultier-esque mesh printed top; and the figures of Laura and Dylan were masked by a thick blue haze. The presentation was odd, but in an effortless and natural fashion, much like the sounds the audience would soon be assaulted with.
Opening the show was the aforementioned ska-inspired banger, ‘stupid horse’. As is expected with their music, the lyrics are absurd; Laura, in an incredibly high voice, recounts her story of losing money on a horse at the derby. Instead of merely feeling this disappointment and going home with money lost, like most people would, she assaults the jockey, steals his belongings, and rides the horse home. What follows is a delightfully comical hook: “stupid horse, I just fell out of the Porsche/Lost the money in my bank account, oh no”. For Gecs fans such as myself, this was a perfect opener; it established the maximalism and absurdity that would continue into their performance while still leaving the audience wondering as to what they would do next.
For the duration of the show, Laura and Dylan met my expectations with great song after great song. A couple particular highlights for me were “hand crushed by a mallet”, in which the duo brought their signature psychotic energy to a moody ballad rife with R&B and deconstructed club influence, as well as their upbeat “ringtone”, a cutesy pop tune about hearing from one’s partner.
While my remarks about the set are mostly positive, there are nonetheless a few criticisms I can’t help but bring up. Firstly, the set was very short; now, the duo is relatively new, and as such their discography is extremely limited. It might be a while until we get to see a full show from the two; regardless, there was quite a bit of dead time in between 100 Gecs and Brockhampton in which a couple more songs could have been played. Personally, I would have loved to hear the trance-inspired “xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx”, an exaggeratedly sentimental love ballad that was indubitably a highlight from their debut album. Another aspect of the set I remain hesitant to embrace is their pairing with Brockhampton; while the opportunity is fantastic for the group, and I am more than happy that the two acts are touring together, I feel as if the Brockhampton crowd does not exactly mesh with the 100 Gecs crowd. Perhaps 100 Gecs would be better loved by an audience of PC Music fanboys and electropop enthusiasts? Just a thought. Nevertheless, I am happy that Brockhampton has provided the act with a pretty significant amount of exposure; they certainly deserve it.
While I do have my criticisms of the 100 Gecs set, they practically vanish when considering the wild and euphoric energy the duo brings to the concert setting. I would absolutely love to see 100 Gecs perform a live show once their discography expands; for now, we’re left with them as an opening act, and even then, they outshined the headliner.