When going to the Echo or Echoplex, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. They have bands of all kinds of genres and range of popularity that play. I had the joy of walking through the urine stained alleys of Echo Park to see Viet Cong, and what I considered to be one of the best shows I have been to in a while.
The first opening act went by the name Heathers. I was intrigued by the name considering Heathers was one of my all time favorite movies going through high school. The lead singer looked like an Ian Curtis look alike that was far more beefed up, and probably didn’t do as many drugs. The songs ranged everywhere from being sad and lonely to sweet and innocent love songs. They were a little more pop punk, with a bit of a post punk edge. They had a great energy though, and definitely did their job to get the crowd even more pumped for the main show.
A short intermission and a water break later, the second act, Freak Heat Waves, came on to do the polar opposite of what Heathers was. They had very similar styling to The Birthday Party, but maybe on a half birthday. They were more focused on the instrumentals than they were the lyrics, and they seemed a little aloof. Everyone in the crowd somehow seemed mesmerized and was just swaying slowly side to side. The opening acts definitely fit Viet Cong because Viet Cong has styling from both those bands combined into one beautiful sound.
Viet Cong finally take the stage and the lead singer Matt Flegel gave the crowd Girl Scout cookies. I mean, what a guy! He had a whole bag of goodies with beer, fruit and lots of candy that he was just handing out to the crowd. Viet Cong just came out with their eponymous first album on Jagjagwuar in January, they are now touring across the US and Europe. Despite shows being cancelled due to their controversial band, they have been taking the music scene by storm with their cerebral take on Post-Punk and Death Rock. This is very much apparent to me after seeing them. One of the best parts about seeing a new band, is that they still have that love and sodality. All of the men of Viet Cong were just vibing off each other, looking at each other with big grins and just happy to be there. There happiness and energy translated into their music and emanated an all around great energy.
They don’t take themselves too seriously ever, and they have the perfect balance of interacting with the audience and playing their music. At one point the lead singer takes a banana and starts banging it between his bass, and the guitarists guitar. Entertaining? Yes. Efficient? Probably not. The low and raspy voice of Flegel played well against the chaotic guitars and perfectly synced drums. People went from moshing to swaying in matters of a second in a song. I guess that’s the beauty of Post Punk. Their closing was one of the most epic things I think I have ever seen in my entire life, they go into this four minutes of just the instrumentals, playing the same beat over and over again. The lead singer/bass player looks like he is lost in a trance. The guitarist seemed like he was just about ready to pull a Pete Townshend and smash his guitar. The second guitarist hocks a loogie, spits it towards the drummer and it lands on him, while the drummer still keeps a steady beat.
They all looked like they were in their own separate worlds, and had completely forgotten about all the band mates on the stage. Yet, they somehow still seemed completely aware and synchronized with each other. It was mind blowing to see an entire band with each member doing their own thing, and having their own individual and separate experience, but needing each other’s power to get to that point of what seemed like nirvana.
They will be touring all year, and if they are coming to your hometown I highly recommend you go see them. If you want a night of good music, laughs, and quite possibly watch the lead singer have an out of body experience you should go!