100 Gecs, the duo of Laura Les and Dylan Brady, are the most polarizing group in all of contemporary music. People either love them or hate them. I rarely hear an indifferent reaction after playing their music for someone. Frankly, that’s the way I like it. A band that can summon immediate love or deep hatred at the same time means they’re a band made for the weirdos that even the normies can grow to appreciate. I personally love the band’s music and don’t care what anyone thinks of me for loving it. After all, since the beginning of 100 Gecs, it’s always been them against the world.
I was so incredibly stoked to cover 100 Gecs’ concert at the Shrine and wasn’t one bit surprised they packed the house with what might’ve been the biggest crowd they’ve performed in front of that wasn’t in a festival setting. You can say 100 Gecs is music for nerds because it attracts gamers, dweebs and outsiders but at the same time, there were plenty of jocks and cheerleaders in that audience, raging harder than anyone for the mysterious duo. Part of the reason these people were there wasn’t just the sonic, rave-like nature of the music but the 100 Gecs core audience’s excitement has a life of its own that is terribly contagious. If anything, seeing mainstream people at an alternative music show is a sign that humanity is evolving.
The band’s music, which combines elements of multiple genres in an unholy cocktails of nu metal, ska, pop punk, dub step and EDM, has somehow turned cringe in brilliance and beauty. Even those who think this is a recipe for disaster can’t deny the band’s freshness, originality and uniqueness. And sometimes just that is enough for me and if you’re not weird, you won’t understand the impulse. Just as important as the freshness of the music is the freshness of the band’s general aesthetic and imagery. They’re pioneers of an entirely new world of metaphors. Take 100 Gecs and the Tree of Clues–just the title and the imagery that goes along with it provoke curious thoughts while conjuring familiar themes. Their backdrop of a plain brick wall or their signature wizard robes make the band’s live persona unmistakable. Then if you take a peek at their album photos and music videos, you see how they’re making the completely banal intriguing and dare I say, cool again. Their album cover can feature them standing next to a tree, facing into it and suddenly that cover becomes a mysterious portal you have to jump into. Not to mention, the band invented its own unit of measurement–a Gec, which was once short for Gecko but has now taken a meaning all its own.
Opening for 100 Gecs was Underscores, a solo singer and producer that brought the most bumping jams and soulful singing to lubricate the audience for the headliner. Underscores had incredible pipes, hitting notes that gave the audience a sense of pure awe. Covering No Doubt and Avril Lavinge, Underscores like a few other artists of our current cultural moment, makes music that is future forward by brilliantly updating retro 90’s vibes. Unlike me, many people at the Shrine that night weren’t alive for the height of the 90’s but at moments you could swear they were bigger fans of the era than the people that lived through it. Underscores’ greatest asset is her raw emotion. She gives her performances everything she has by injecting every song with so much raw emotion, she can barely take it.
From the moment 100 Gecs graced the stage in Wizard robes, the entire Shrine was shaking with fans jumping, singing, and going to crazy in the first ever outsider rave of its kind. They played the songs their die hard fans consider classics like “Stupid Horse” and “Money Machine” but also introduced LA to numerous unreleased songs from their upcoming album that expanded their musical horizons in directions that hadn’t gone previously. As far as I can tell, this is going to be a band that breaks new ground with every album they release. One powerful moment of the show was when the duo went acoustic for the song “gecgecgec”. Repeating the chorus, “I’m not stronger, stronger than you” with a pop punk vocal cadence, fans got a sense of the sort of sentiments behind the band’s music. Self awareness and acceptance of your own sensitivity and vulnerability is paramount.
Even after finally seeing them and binge-listening to their music, including their new song “mememe”, 100 Gecs remains a complete mystery to me. I think that’s how they like it. There’s always a hat or hair covering their faces and there’s always lyrics left open to infinite interpretation and there’s always going to be an audience who’s undying devotion no one fully understands. And that’s beautiful, especially in a world where everything has already been explored down to the molecule, 100 Gecs remains one of the few big question marks left. And if you can’t get intrigued by that, well then friend, you ought to get a clue.
Words by: Rob Shepyer
Photos by: Veronika Reinert