Welcome to Beet Knife’s Best of 2019, which we will continue to share well into 2020. Today’s feature was selected by Beet Knife PR person & blog editor Erin Bensinger, who also sings songs as Common Law.
You’re at the show to see the touring act, and as you descend the basement stairs the stage opens up to them: the weirdest act in your scene. At first you’re confused, uncomfortable even; you’re watching this bizarre performance art, a passive bystander leaning against a basement support beam and sipping your coconut LaCroix as they pour out their own human souls on the stage that’s really just a concrete corner of basement. Maybe you’re not that into the music, but you can’t help but admire how thoroughly and honestly they’re doing the damn thing. Your interest is piqued each time you see their name pop up on a bill. You keep showing up right on time so you won’t miss your chance to catch them and make shy, mindless small talk in the kitchen after the set.
That’s the precise feeling I get from listening to 100 gecs.
I first put on their 2019 breakout record 1000 gecs out of a desire to be culturally informed. I gave it one listen-through, understood the appeal at a surface level, and went back to listening to All Mirrors on endless repeat. Slowly, the ska-tinged electro-shred hook from “stupid horse” seeped into all the cracks in my brain, forcing me to return to the record again and again to soothe the earworm. Dear readers, I did not expect to end up a gec, but here I am.
“stupid horse” is easily my favorite track on the record, probably because I secretly love ska and this is an appropriate format in which to unironically appreciate it. The song is catchy, the production is great, and Laura Les’s chiptune cyborg voice is compelling. At face value, the lyrics seem silly and absurdist; on a closer look, they just may be a scathing critique of capitalism and/or a thinly veiled allegory for heroin addiction.
There is something refreshing, even cathartic, about watching the rapid ascent of a group that so clearly does not give a fuck about convention or respectability. 100 gecs is tapping into the primal essence of what it means to be a young 20-something in our current cultural, social, and political moment, where your very emotional and financial security sometimes walks an impossible tightrope between being logged on and checked out. That feeling is brought into sharp relief on standout track “800db cloud,” a blown-out pop-punk-adjacent track seamlessly incorporates the first pigsqueal breakdown I’ve willingly listened to in approximately ten years:
I’m addicted to making money off me, yeah
I might go and throw my phone into the lake, yeah
It ain’t hard to quit caring what you think, yeah
If you came to this piece with a single question, and that question was “what is a gec?”, then I am here to tell you that I am pretty sure it’s just a gecko, but I’m not entirely sure. If I’ve learned anything over the past months since this record entered my orbit, it’s that a gec is more about the journey than the destination.
1000 gecs is available as of May 31, 2019. It was released on Dog Show Records, 100 gecs’ own label, because of course it was.