Viet Cong

Viet Cong


It’s an interesting feeling going to a gig without knowing much about the band you’re off to see. Having enjoyed the singles and videos they’ve put out so far, but not knowing a huge amount about them, tonight I’m heading to The Deaf Institute to see Viet Cong. Following a wave of hype surrounding single ‘Continental Shelfand their debut album released just last month, it’s no surprise that tonight is a sold out show. I’ve got a feeling though, that I won’t be the only one heading to the gig on a whim.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s freezing outside. Taking a big jacket to a gig, or anything that you have to carry, is a nightmare. That’s what makes winter shows – especially when they’re sold out – so annoying. Multilayer annoying. Sure enough, by the time the support comes on, it’s already getting a little stuffy. Everyone in the room drops a layer. Fellow Canadians, Absolutely Free are the only support tonight, and initial impressions aren’t good. In the back of my mind, I’d feared this show was going to be an entirely hipster affair, and the way this started out was exactly that – Two guys rocking synthesizers, whilst a drummer who didn’t seem to be doing a whole lot couldn’t sit still. But then for the second track, the vocalist picks up his guitar, the drummer finally sits down, and they kick it into gear. From this point on, it’s great. The Toronto three-piece get the crowd suitably warmed up, working out the initial kinks and getting a great response. Definitely one to check out.

It’s getting so warm that another layer has to come off. I’m pretty sure a guy in the back is down to just his boxers. With The Deaf Institute fit to burst, Viet Cong arrive on stage. From the get-go, this is just awesome. Front man Matt Flegel jokes between songs that they’re not working off a set list, the band is just playing what he tells them to on the fly. I’m all for this method if it leads to shows like this! It’s clear that these guys are having a hell of a time on stage, with wise cracks being thrown amongst them in between songs and a general sense of goodwill in the room. At one point they insist that the huge disco ball that hangs from the ceiling be turned on, which draws great delight from the crowd. For music this danceable, why not have the disco ball spinning? Highlights from the night include the mighty ‘Silhouettes’ and ‘Bunker Buster’, the latter getting a huge reaction from the crowd. ‘Continental Shelf’ makes an appearance later in the set, and amazingly isn’t greeted with as much vigour as some of the other tracks. This isn’t a slight on the tune itself, but a great indicator of the strength of their song writing. ‘Death’ is the last track of the night, and a perfect closer. Its middle section being utter head banging joy, before kicking right back into the danceable, jangly guitar lead – Joy Division-esque closing minutes.

For those fans who followed Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace from the Women days, it’s probably no surprise that Viet Cong slayed tonight. But If you’re new to these guys and still sat on the fence with Viet Cong, I suggest checking them out live. Fully warranting the hype, they’re a tremendous band.

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Andy Hughes

Hi, I'm Andy.I'm the man behind Birthday Cake for Breakfast, a site featuring music news, reviews and interviews.Big believer in Birthday Cake, Pizza, math rock and beer (preferably all in one sitting.) I spend my mornings daydreaming about gigs and my evenings going to gigs. Lunch times are spent walking about town listening to Tom Waits.'Id rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy'