by Ziggy Merritt
This past Friday, amorphous indie-dance collective, Making Time, celebrated the first half of their fifteenth anniversary with an unusual if ingenious pairing, Hazy dream pop rockers Lower Dens and of course the always exuberant and pulsating energy of Viet Cong were on the line up for Voyeur Nightclub.
Opening for the headlining acts was the not-so-greatly-advertised yet up-and-coming Irish four piece, Girl Band. They kicked off the night with startling dissonance and crackling electricity. Enthusiastic head-bobbers dug the fierce vocal delivery of lead singer, Dara Kiely who ate up the energy of a crowd already on the verge of Tecate tipsiness.
Lower Dens followed, bringing the atmosphere down to the level of the starstruck shoegazers, particularly one happy chap who was greeted to a mini-mosh by the always lovely Jana Hunter near the end of their set. The crowded intimacy of Voyeur allowed the more personable side of the band to come through, something touching to watch wash over the now fully tipsy Tecate drinkers.
Viet Cong entered the fray around 12:30, interrupting the electronica interim between sets and setting the room into an uproar of rough-and-tumble, slicked-with-sweat moshers. Everything came alive.
The setlist that followed included some of their darker entries (pun intended, sorry/not sorry), most memorably their single, “Continental Shelf” off of the self-titled Viet Cong. They built upon the mood of the crowd who by the middle of the set had developed into a whirling cyclone of mostly good-natured, booze-fueled punk junkies. I can only imagine that the turning point that led to this development was the sudden shirtlessness of drummer, Mike Wallace, but who’s to say.
The venue was well-suited to their incredible onstage presence. They embraced the insane heat of the night to turn out a performance that spoke to the raw intensity and desolation present in their music to date. But most of all they had fun. The amount of sly grins on lead singer and bassist Matt Flegel’s face increased precipitously as the set continued late into the night.
Near the end of the set I had to leave the front of the stage to avoid some of the rowdier shoving, but that in itself should attest to the emotional response Viet Cong was able elicit from the audience, an audience who were reflective of the desire for free expression of gender fluidity and sexuality. During the midst of the performance this was a notion acknowledged, albeit muted by the cheering masses, by Flegel. It is something I can say with some certainty is becoming of the ethos of Hunter and Kiely who preceded him, all joining in to celebrate a night of Dionysian revelry.