July 16, 2014
That Was The Show That Was: Viet Cong with TV Ghost, Alosi Den | Great Scott, Boston | 13 July
[PHOTO: Dillon Riley] We were among those still smarting from the dissolution of Calgary-based post-punk troupe Women in the wake of the untimely passing of guitarist Christopher Reimer when affiliated project Viet Cong first began breaking like a weird, jagged wave. While perhaps lacking some of the inherent experimentalism that initially drew us to Women, the early racket the new quartet cooked up certainly intrigued. Word that Brooklyn-based label Mexican Summer was re-pressing its self-released debut, a tour cassette, as a full-fledged EP titled Cassette spurred us to delve more deeply, albeit somewhat guardedly. Any apprehension was quickly dispelled, however: what we heard from Viet Cong was an impressive and confident collection of post-punk tunes that belied the band's relative infancy. The foursome has been out on the road supporting said re-release, and that road brought Viet Cong to America's Living Room, a/k/a Boston's Great Scott rock club, this past Sunday night.
After resolving a minor kick-pedal emergency, the band mounted the stage one by one and began playing purposely out of synch. Before long, however, the unit locked on to a heavy, motorik groove and jammed on it relentlessly. This formidable, pounding intro segued into two additional, lethally heavy tunes before bassist/vocalist Matt Flegel addressed the crowd. Mr. Flegel, surprisingly cheery given the inherent darkness of the preceding music, proclaimed Viet Cong would deliver its usual set, but backwards. With that, the act launched into a slate of newer songs that conceivably no one in the room outside of the band had yet heard. This was a bold move, considering that Viet Cong's slim catalogue consists of a mere seven fully mastered tracks. Even so, these new tunes were not without their own charms. Indeed, with heavy rhythm playing and reverberating, pencil-thin guitar lines -- which struggled to gain sonic purchase against Flegel's taut bass lines and barked vocals -- Viet Cong proved several times over that its best songs seem to lay ahead of them.
The band finally charged into its more recognizable tunes with a renewed vitality, seemingly inspired by an approving vibe from the audience. Cassette opener "Throw It Away" incited plenty of head-bobbing, and its thrilling synth-y outro -- a conceit the band reiterates on some of its newer tunes -- elicited the night's loudest cheers. The latter half of the set also included "Static Wall" and "Unconscious Melody," and not long after the band regrettably retired from the stage to the sounds of, no kidding, My Bloody Valentine's titanic shoegaze anthem "Only Shallow." A surprisingly poignant end to a quick, hot set from a band that will hopefully not keep the public waiting nearly as long as Shields and Co. did for what will surely be a cracking new set of rock songs.
Indiana psych-rock crew TV Ghost earned kudos for its supporting set, which paired moody post-punk tones with frontman Tim Gick's impassioned, hyperactive stage presence. The act's best tunes remained persistently melodious despite Gick's best attempts at derailing them with bursts of amp-scraping feedback and mic-stand abuse. Local psychedelics Alosi Den opened. Viet Cong's Cassette EP was reissued July 8 and is available now on vinyl or as a digital download from Mexican Summer right here. Listen in to the "Throw It Away" single and a rough mix of the spiky, non-EP track "Bunker Buster" via the embeds below. -- Dillon Riley
Viet Cong: Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Wikipedia