Nashville Nights: 100 Gecs Play Cannery Ballroom

This past Wednesday on November 3rd, fans and music-lovers alike lined up around Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom to witness hyperpop heavy-hitters 100 Gecs play their first ever Nashville show. 

I was first introduced to 100 Gecs back in 2019 when a friend sent me their single “800db cloud,” off their record 1000 Gecs. I was immediately blown away by the track’s infectiously catchy hooks, spontaneity, and the group’s ability to amalgamate so many different genres. With its earth-shaking bass drum, EDM-inspired bass-heavy synths, the first part of the song sounds something like a 2000’s screamo-hip-hop crossover. At the end of the song the band launches into a lo-fi hardcore breakdown, with pulsating feedback and guttural screams that sound straight out of a early-90’s black metal record. 

The record as a whole is just as unpredictable, with the duo proudly throwing traditional song-structure to the wind. Their sound-collage of a record combines elements of early 2000’s pop and modern hip hop with elements of emo, punk, noise rock, and nu-metal sprinkled throughout. The record is made through a maximalist lens, with every aspect of the tracks, such as the overly compressed bass and autotune-drench vocals, pushed past it’s breaking point. 

100 Gecs is the brainchild of St. Louis-based Dylan Brady and Chicago-based Laura Les, who had both been crafting their hyperpop sounds years before the formation of 100 Gecs. The band hit a stride following the release of their debut record, receiving acclaim from Pitchfork, Noisey, and The Needle Drop. The internet was ablaze with buzz about the exciting new duo. As they grew in popularity, the group proved to be quite divisive, with some people immediately falling in love with their quirky hooks, while others simply “didn’t get it.”

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Unfortunately, right as they were set to tour and perform around the world, the pandemic thwarted any and all prospects of them doing so. They released a remix album during the summer of 2020, however, where the duo worked with artists such as Charli XCX, Rico Nasty, and Fallout Boy, to name a few. Whether their popularity would survive and remain relevant through the pandemic, however, remained uncertain. 

As fans lined up outside the venue and packed themselves into the Cannery Ballroom, it quickly became apparent that people’s interest in the group hadn’t diminished. Despite Nashville being a city that isn’t known for having “outsider” acts roll through, the show’s turnout showed that the people of Nashville are hungry for new alternative music. 

Surprisingly, despite the band’s popularity, very few live videos of the band are available online, so I had no idea what to expect as I made my way inside the venue. 

The show started off with tasteful selection of hardcore, candy-rave infused EDM bangers from opener Alice Gas, a young producer from Denton, TX. 

Later, as the lights dimmed, and the silhouettes of Brady and Les emerged, the crowd erupted into a deafening applause. The lights revealed the pair dressed in purple wizard costumes lined with gold stars, with Brady’s oversized wizard hat balanced precariously over his long, blond hair. 

The duo started things off arms swinging with an unreleased track, which featured the group’s signature heavy, distorted bass and unforgivingly brutal guitar samples. They followed that up with fan-favorite “stupid horse,” a peculiar but upbeat song about losing money on a horse race and assaulting a jockey. Les was front and center while Brady manipulated sounds and queued up tracks on his laptop.

On one unreleased track, Les brought out an electric guitar and unleashed a barrage of chaotic distorted feedback, with digitally manipulated guitar riffs that sounded like if Korn went emo, all while vocal samples chanted, “One million dollars, One million dollars.” The song inspired a wild, impenetrable mosh pit that would rival that of even the most intense hardcore punk shows.

They followed that up with an acoustic rendition of “gecgecgec.” The pair brought out stools and acoustic guitars and gave an intimate performance that allowed the audience to scream the lyrics back at Les. 

Although they played a healthy dose of new material, they still performed old favorites like “Ringtone,” a song about modern love in the digital age, and “money machine,” the group’s breakout single and hyperpop anthem.

They closed out the show with “800 db cloud,” which was just as fresh as when I first heard it two years ago. 

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The show was a reminder of why I fell in love with the group in the first place. In a time when bands opt for emulating acts of the past rather than pursuing originality, 100 Gecs have shown that its possible to still be fun and original. They keep you on your toes, and you never really know what to expect from their songs, with tracks effortlessly flowing from one genre to another. These influences reveal the duo’s love for and knowledge of a wide-reaching spectrum of music. 

But despite the maximalism of their sound, the duo still manages to remain humble and down to earth. Watching the duo on stage, it’s clear that they’re just two friends that are purely having fun and making music for themselves. They aren’t trying to emulate or impress anyone but themselves. Their authenticity is irresistibly endearing, and is ultimately why their fans love them so much. 

If 100 Gecs are playing within a 50 mile radius of you, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. It’ll be a show you and your friends won’t soon forget. 

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