- the molly zone
- pondering millennial cringe @ 100 Gecs DJ set??
pondering millennial cringe @ 100 Gecs DJ set??
plus MUSIC MOOTS™ with ravine angel and bryn nieboer
Last Friday evening there was a 100 Gecs show afterparty, DJ’d by 100 Gecs themselves. I didn’t actually go see the Gecs play at Avant Gardner — though I did clock the show announcement on Instagram back in January, when fans of the Avant Gardner family of venues expressed extreme dismay about the booking of the Gecs and at their deep-fried, onion-themed tour poster.
However, their Boiler Room set opened my third eye. I blasted it when I was in Los Angeles last month, tooling around in a rental Toyota Camry, dabbling in the amenities of the Burbank Crunch Fitness. It ripped my head off, and I hoped to hear their gnarly “Where’s Your Head At?” remix live someday.
How wonderful then that 100 Gecs were DJing their own Brooklyn afterparty! Which was located in a “secret warehouse location” that ended up being the same empty chocolate factory that I saw Whyte Fang in a few weeks back. Truthfully I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of a “secret warehouse location.” I hate being left out, and love to be in on a secret. I’m a Scorpio!
A line of people wrapped around the chocolate factory, and it was pissing frigid rain. We filed into the line and some very sweet people immediately behind us lent Chris and I a spare umbrella, which we then shared with the people ahead of us in line. A rain-based trauma bond was therefore created. We chatted while we shuffled toward the door. The guys in front of us were planning on going to Bonnaroo next month and we compared festival camping strategies. At one point Chris brought up a new species of crab that had been discovered and passed around a photo of it: new crab just dropped.
Finally we got into the chocolate factory. Someone was already behind the decks, slamming a relentless mix of hardcore electronic music down everyone’s ear tubes. The crowd was high-energy, in high spirits, and very much down to dance. I think there’s a stereotype already of 100 Gecs fans being extremely online and therefore antisocial in a particularly ‘online’ kind of way — when I made a TikTok about buying 10,000 Gecs on CD on a whim, someone commented “most sane Gecs fan” and it tickled me — but what I saw at the afterparty was a large and fairly diverse group of people creating a generally warm public social feeling together. It reminds me how there’s a ton of hullabaloo about a certain neighborhood in Manhattan and its aesthetic and politics and What It All Means For The Culture…meanwhile Brooklyn is stuffed to the gills with genuine 24 hour party people, but they can’t be codified into memes in quite the same way.
it was raining, we were raving
The music banged. Metaphorically and literally. It was so loud in the chocolate factory. The DJ when we got there, who I believe was DJ Fuck, was playing some absolutely bonkers music and if I hadn’t had earplugs, it would have caused serious damage. I ID’d “Hard” by SOPHIE and a high-pitched remix of “Clarity” by Zedd. (I have a huge soft spot for Zedd. His 2017 Ultra set goes nuts. He’s the crème de la crème of pop EDM.) At one point there was a beat that approximated what it might sound like if you were able to be fully present and actively listening when a glass bottle gets smashed directly over your head.
Laura Les and Dylan Brady hit the decks. The crowd roared. We got some choice cuts from the Boiler Room set (my beloved Basement Jaxx remix, “Bust Down” by Constantine feat. Squadooble). There was a ridiculous flip of “Toxicity” by System of a Down that had me eating seeds as a pastime activity. I think my favorite moment overall was their dropping a slightly-increased-BPM “I Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavilion, which everyone went wild for. “I Can’t Stop” is a masterpiece, a perfect excessive hallmark of the golden age of EDM that YouTube commenters will never stop hooting and hollering about, and that Baz Luhrmann wisely mixed into his underrated Great Gatsby movie mess. And it’s always good to push the tempo. We are living in a tempo-pushing time.
You know, I think it’s been hard for millennials to pass our Torch of Youthfulness on to Gen Z. To be boiled in a 9/11-flavored stew seasoned with a couple of Middle Eastern wars, then spat out into a recession, tumble-dried on low in the corporate world for a decade, only to watch the last few years of our misspent youth dribbling down the Covid drain? And then emerge on the other side and see everyone is…making fun of our…jeans? OUR JEANS?!? Boy, what a kick in the nuts.
What I love about hyperpop is how naturally it indulges in so much 2000s and early 2010s nostalgia — which validates my egocentric insistence that there was a time when millennials made things that were cool — and then builds on the nostalgia and makes something new. It puts cringe in the cringe crucible and extracts pure pleasure. And it does that by having a sense of humor, which is sometimes hard to maintain when you get older and at risk of falling into cynicism.
Okay how’s this for millennial nostalgia — in the movie School of Rock, Joan Cusack’s character laments her conservatism: “I wasn't always like this, you know. I wasn't always wound this tight. There was a time where I was fun. I was funny!” Life is designed to wind you as tight as possible. Technology is designed to wind you as tight as possible. I see how all this paranoid infrastructure calls out to millennials as we squeeze past age thirty, then age forty, how you’re supposed to post on Nextdoor about something weird you saw on your Ring camera or complain about your Instacart shopper buying overripe bananas. Oooooo, it’s a trap. Go dancing instead.
Your world can get bigger instead of smaller as you get older. It just requires some talking to people: people older than you, people younger than you. They don’t want you to do that! You might find out you have stuff in common! You might find out that you both like a song about a frog on the floor doing a kegstand.
MUSIC MOOTS™ RETURNS
After a highly successful last run at Music Moots™ — remember, this is where I ask someone I know IRL or URL or both for a song recommendation, and then I listen to it and write about it — we’re back with two brand new entries.
First, Aoife Josie Baker, who plays music solo as Ravine Angel, and is also in the group froggyworm. I interviewed her for The Alternative back in the day and she’s been putting out dense, melodic, fascinating, total-genre-collapse music for quite a while. I knew I needed her recommendation for a tune. Which did not disappoint!! It’s “Headstone Prices on Credit” by Lauren Bousfield.
“she’s an experimental composer who’s been super influential in the trans/queer industrial scene for like a decade but has been underappreciated outside that sphere imo. it’s the first single she dropped for her upcoming album, and it’s the kind of dense, overstimulating punk-pop i really flip for. i really love how she integrates her vocals into her often very harsh music to centre the emotions of the piece, and the complexity of her melodies.”
OH YEAH BABY. I am 1000% responding to the “dense, overstimulating” nature of this song. Breakbeats breakbeats breakbeats. Drill the breakbeats straight into my skull, titanium-plate-style!! This actually reminds me of what I most responded to in the DJ Fuck set at the Gecs afterparty — the combination of delicate melody with incredibly intense percussion, which at its loudest point can feel like you’re subjecting your entire body to a science experiment.
I am so fascinated with this drum maximalism and how it physically feels to listen to it. It’s obviously indebted to a couple of decades of industrial music, jungle music, etc. but also seems like something undeniably new. I crave the new! The WOOP sound in this gets me hype. And any song that clocks in at two minutes and five seconds is not too shabby either. I think it belongs on one of my favorite playlists made by another person: “soundtrack to a cyberpunk movie about my life.” Absolutely going to get into the Lauren Bousfield universe now. Thanks Aoife!!
Second, we have Bryn Nieboer, who is in the fantastic post-hardcore band Stay Inside and co-hosts both Beep Beep Lettuce podcast and Generation Loss. In a world where all the musicians want to be podcasters and all the podcasters want to be musicians, Bryn is extremely good at both. She’s also a practical woman, and when I asked her for a music rec, she took a cool-headed look at her quantified listening habits on Last.fm and gave me two picks for her current most-listened tracks: “In These Times” by drummer and bandleader Makaya McCraven, and "The Cognitive Tradeoff Hypothesis" by Viagra Boys.
“In These Times” is a seven-minute whirlpool of jazz that kicks off with audio of Harry Belafonte speaking to an unknown listener. The source is a 1955 interview with Studs Terkel; in the original interview, he invokes a dramatization of a speech made by African-American folk hero John Henry about the need to finish the construction of a railroad:
“I never want to be known as anyone opposed to progress, but this is no longer a matter of progress or not progress….I ain't really opposed to the machine, I just feel that the machine can't take the place of the soul and the sweat for the many men who died to help build this tunnel, and we got to finish it, and it just ain't no two ways about it."
What stood out to me was how “In These Times” feels both organic but also somehow mechanical and mathematic — the instrumentation of the drums and the other instruments that interact with the drums (including an mfing harp and a saxophone solo that seems to scream a little) evoke for me the image of bees that make perfectly hexagonal honeycombs, fractal patterns growing in ferns, the inescapable math of nature…and of course human beings building our geometric shapes into the landscape, often at the cost of the lives of other humans. With the context of the Harry Belafonte interview, the song really got me thinking about human beings, our capacity for greatness and destruction, what makes us special and what makes us horrible.
Onto “The Cognitive Trade-Off Hypothesis,” a woozy rock song I was already familiar with via my fandom of the beer-soaked Swedish punks Viagra Boys and their great 2022 album Cave World, that now fits into my Music Moots listening in a new way. It ponders the evolution of humans and the way we interact with planet Earth. I like how it suggests that when we evolved from monkeys, we “climbed down from the trees and learned to speak” but “lost all of our cognitive abilities” — that in gaining our current language, we lost our former way of interacting with the world, which might have been easier and more intuitive than the one we have now.
With these three songs, I’m thinking about INDUSTRY. I’m thinking about what is NATURAL and UNNATURAL. I’m thinking about what is HAPPENING IN OUR BRAINS when we’re continually exposed to newer and “better” technology. I’m thinking about how we ask for simple ways to improve our lives, and tech companies are like, “Best we can do is TV shows written by AI and a metaverse with absolutely no one in it.” I’m thinking about it all! And I’m trying to stay in good spirits…going out dancing certainly helps…