Viet Cong - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Viet Cong - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2012-01-31

The Brudenell was packed to the rafters for Calgary’s Viet Cong, a detectable sense of anticipation in the air and more smoke gathering around the stage then Keith Richards’ living room.

Formed from the ashes of art-rock types Women, the band has gradually created a significant buzz around their darkly intense post-punk clamour and their enthusiastically received, self-titled debut album. Having a great album to your name is one thing but would these four Canadian indie-rockers cut it live?

The nights first support act came in the form of Leeds/London indie-types, T.O.Y.S. With drums, keyboard, bass and vocals, the band created concise, head-nodding nuggets abound with brightly coloured pop-thrills.

Their stripped-down approach put the focus firmly on the songs' rhythmic charms, Adam Millers propulsive basslines at the heart of each track. The band's insistent grooves shared some common ground with the likes of dancefloor surrealists Quack Quack but with added pop-punch.

Next up we got a set from Toronto’s, Absolutely Free. The reverb-soaked harmonies of the band's opening gambit worked a treat, their lead vocalist projecting as if reciting some ancient hymn. From there on the band's set displayed a knack for kaleidoscopic, pop-psychedelia and a healthy respect for the likes of Animal Collective.

If there was one problem. it’s that the songs sometimes seemed to merge into one big, undistinguishable wash of sound. The sets highlights came when the band found synergy between their electronic leanings and their more rhythmic, organic outpourings.

Vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace have been playing together for a long time now, and it’s perhaps this strong relationship that gave Viet Cong such a relaxed stage presence. The band gave The Brudenell Social Club their hearty endorsement and left all the brooding intensity to their songs. While shrouded in the stage's generous helpings of smoke, the band launched into tracks from both their debut cassette and last month's, hot-of-the press LP.

The band’s sound flirted with various styles, at times recalling such post-punk lynchpins as Wire. Early track ‘Throw It Away’ sounded markedly different from anything they played from Viet Cong. The song’s catchy CBGB punk-rock vibes sounded naggingly familiar, like some great lost post-post-punk single, too simple and effective to go undetected for so long.  

Undeniably, it’s the tracks from their LP that hold the most weight. ‘March of Progress’ clattered into life with an impressive level of noisy inventiveness, while the darkly seductive ‘Continental Shelf’ (or continental breakfast as Flegal renamed it) brooded and sprawled with aplomb.

Flegal’s vocals moved from commanding croon to raw, throaty bark, giving the songs their emotional edge and dark heart. The band has drawn comparisons to the likes of Interpol yet it’s when they stretched their sound that we heard the most satisfying results.  

While everything is played with passion and proficiency, most of the songs simply paled in comparison when they came to play closing piece ‘Death’. It was within the song's 15-minute wind-tunnel of noise that an enjoyable set hinted at something much more caustic, much more challenging. The band threw themselves behind the song's brutal crescendos, and during one particularly relentless section I was even reminded of the mighty Swans (although I wasn’t deaf afterwards so they’ve got some way to go).

While Viet Cong haven’t quite set the world on fire just yet, their lengthy, uncompromising final offering suggested that they might just do that given time. 

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great Stuff. The new album is a big advance on their earlier stuff, in my view.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Have listened to it but think it needs further spins to sink in...

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles
Viet Cong - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab
FACS - Lifelike
  • 03/21/2019
  • By Tim Sentz
Viet Cong - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab
Viet Cong - Viet Cong
  • 01/05/2015
  • By Rob Taylor