Music Hall of Williamsburg
Viet Cong

Part of Northside Festival

Viet Cong

Girl Band, American Wrestlers

Sat, June 13, 2015

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$15

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

Viet Cong
Viet Cong
It takes less than sixty seconds of album opener “Newspaper Spoons” for you to decide that Viet Cong is a winter record. The album has barely begun, and the guitar doesn’t snarl until the end of that opening minute, but it still presents a palpable iciness in just a few short moments. It’s bitter. It stings. But once you’re in it, and you’re bracing yourself and charging ahead, “Newspaper Spoons” moves from a punishing, almost militarized drumbeat to a melody that’s still menacing but also delicate, almost celestial.

That instinct for humanizing a stone-cold song is Viet Cong’s greatest gift and sharpest weapon. It’s harsh, but exhilarating. Themes of deconstruction and disintegration, of hardening and crumbling seem to come from every direction. But time and again, they are rescued by something—a little bit of humor, a cathartic moment, even a basic human goof. In fact, as the members of Viet Cong worked through the songs that make up this record, they erred on the side of keeping those moments that save Viet Cong from being overly mechanized. “There have to be strange little goofups and stuff that’s sometimes intentional, sometimes not,” bassist and lead singer Matt Flegel explains. “I have a bleak sense of humor, too, so some lyrics might seem funny to me even though anyone else might think they’re desperately hopeless.”

Recorded in a barn-turned-studio in rural Ontario, the seven songs that make up Viet Cong were born largely on the road, when the four-piece embarked on a 50-date tour that stretched virtually every limit imaginable. Close quarters hastened their exhaustion but also honed them as a group. With all four members traveling in one car, the mood conflated with the soundtrack, the soundtrack with the cities around them, and so forth. There was repetition, but it was all different. This combined with the grey, chilly emptiness of Calgary rendered a record with a viscerally rugged vibe, one that Flegel even describes as “shit earth.”

As Viet Cong pushes forward, the six-minute “March of Progress” is when it begins to really take flight. A lengthy, almost industrial march chugs along for a full three minutes before the floor gives out underneath it and gives way to a spare little riff and the album’s first real melody. “That’s the one where I thought ‘that’s what I want us to be doing. Finally,’” explains Flegel. “That was the sound that I had heard in my mind before we even got started.” Later still, that negative space gives way to a richer melody, and it’s here that Flegel sings “we build the buildings and they’re built to break,” a declaration that is in many ways this album’s thesis.

The repetition throughout Viet Cong hypnotizes but it also softens, leaving a space that is deceptively personal. “Continental Shelf” orbits a thousand-watt hook with a thick crackle and a battering-ram drum line. It’s so arresting that you barely notice it doesn’t have a chorus, and then in comes a line like “if we’re lucky we’ll get old and die” and you can’t believe Leonard Cohen (or Trent Reznor, or Nick Cave, or Sinatra) didn’t get to it first. “Silhouettes” is a tripwire of a song, opening with an almost Joy Division-esque exposition and moving at breakneck speed - frantic and pitch-black at a thousand miles an hour - until before you know it they are howling. Actually howling, and maybe you are too.

You can designate records as seasonal, and you can feel Viet Cong’s bleakness and declare it wintry. But the only way you get a frost is when there’s something warmer to freeze up. So yes, Viet Cong is a winter album, but only until it is a spring record, then a summer scorcher, then an autumn burner, then it ices over again. They build these buildings, and they’re built to break.
Girl Band
Girl Band
Girl Band is a four piece band from Dublin, Ireland. They are made up of Dara Kiely , Alan Duggan, Daniel Fox and Adam Faulkner.

Girl Band formed in late 2011. They released 3 singles and an EP with Any Other City Records. Their live show is known for being loud, intense and energetic.

Girl Band recently signed to Rough Trade Records and will be releasing their debut album in 2015.
American Wrestlers
Now based in Missouri, the Scotsman behind American Wrestlers has been on one hell of a journey. Born and raised in Glasgow, he then found his way to Manchester, where he recorded some demos under a different name and posted the songs online. It was then that his now-wife first got in touch, and after becoming enraptured with one another, he moved across the Atlantic to get married.

"I like to write real songs that survive all on their own," he explains of the sound. "One human and one instrument. Just the human even." Melodic and hazy, its ramshackle surface hides an attention to detail that leaves the 'lo-fi' tag dead in the water.

"The lo-fi thing was all unintentional," he confirms. "This was me trying my hardest to keep all the different sounds and layers under control. Make the reverbs and chorus sound nice and get just the right amount of overdrive from the multi-track's inputs, while at the same time trying to make sure I kept the natural sounds and feels of the real sources the music was coming from."

Armed with little more than a TASCAM 8-track and "the cheapest pawn shop instruments [he] could afford," the upcoming self-titled debut took shape in remote and rural America, and that comforting step away from the hustle and bustle is felt throughout.

First single sees 'I Can Do No Wrong' sees shimmery guitar-work draw upon that feeling of a Midwestern summer's stifling heat. Driven along by a crackling beat, it's a stripped back approach to garage-rock that focuses on melody and avoids the all-too-common desire to drench everything in layer-upon-layer of fuzz.

"The warbling in the chorus is me shaking the whole cassette after taking off the front of the tape tray," he explains of his process. There's a similar free-spiritedness throughout the record – on 'There's No One Crying Over Me Either', the four-note piano refrain was a happy accident: "I was walking past a piano in a friends house and hit four notes at random, stopped and played them again a few times, then sang a melody, and it eventually became this song."

"The last time I had a TASCAM 8-track I was fourteen," he continues on the subject of the record's playful and timeless nature. "The TASCAM was fitting because I was kinda trying to write the album I had always wanted to write since I first started playing music." For the character behind American Wrestlers, then, it's a lifelong ambition finally realised – for all us lucky enough to hear the fruits of his labour, it's a wonderfully timeless record, and one that's destined to inspire another generation of youngsters to pick up their own 8-track.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/