Arts & Entertainment, Features, Reviews

REVIEW: 100 gecs performs at the Royale, uniting audience in unique community space

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, I have felt a societal inclination towards a more independent lifestyle. I’ve noticed an online encouragement towards taking oneself out to dinner, for a movie, on a date — especially after quarantine — all in the name of self-care. However, a concert may not present itself as an obvious solo adventure. What kind of music would you be okay dancing alone to rather than with friends? What kind of band presents that kind of scene?

100 Gecs at The Royale
100 Gecs performing at The Royale Monday night. VISHVA VENKATESAN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

On Monday night at the Royale nightclub on Tremont Street, 100 gecs performed at a concert which excelled at providing such an atmosphere. Contained within a small sector of music is the recently popularized band 100 gecs, made up of co-producers Laura Les and Dylan Brady.

Though many fans were excited for the music — the loud bass and intoxicating electric beats — I found it to be upstaged: The most powerful aspect of the 100 gecs performance was its crowd and energy of inclusiveness.

When hyperpop first appeared on Spotify in August 2019, the platform defined the microgenre — which started as a playlist — as “that weird pop music the kids are listening to.” But beyond just the music, it’s an attitude. In a discussion of its appeal with Rolling Stone, 100 gecs’s Les says the music “doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

This can lead to a heavily misconstrued reflection of the crowd. Especially in this day and age of post-irony, it has proven to be a bit harder for older generations, or generally anyone who isn’t chronically online, to decipher the seriousness, or lack thereof, of 100 gecs or other small hyperpop artists.

With the plethora of lyrics holding references to viral memes, those with a bigger online presence might find greater appeal in them. But here’s why the lyrics don’t have to be good or be serious: the fast-paced, repetitive beats offer the same instant gratification that can be produced by many social media sites — and this might offer the same appeal to neurodivergent fans.

100 gecs’s music with relentlessly repetitive dance beats, which, in some cases, can produce the same effect as stimming activities for neurodivergent individuals. According to Healthline, stimming is the production of repetitive movements or noises as a means of self-stimulation. It can help adolescents or young adults with autism, ADHD, Aspergers or just in general release tensions or cope with difficult emotions. Dance is proven to be a quite helpful stimming behavior.

Additionally, it makes sense that the band would attract an extensive queer fan base with its inherent queerness. Les acknowledged in the online magazine them. the influence being transgender has had on her exploration of different vocal styles, eventually landing on “nightcore.” These artists and the music they create are meaningful to queer youth, making the concert one of those essential spaces of acceptance that has always been imperative throughout queer history.

Ultimately, I was not the only one there alone nor had any reason to be self-conscious about this. In many corners of the dance floor, lone wolves awkwardly swayed or head bopped. Yet, the same number of lone wolves were jumping and head-bobbing, almost violently.

I quickly realized that all these people were granted the freedom to be whatever they wanted here. People were wearing pajamas, dressed scantily clad, holding hands, drinking and dancing. Even those on the sidelines were in the background because they could be. The attitude centric to 100 gec’s music was just as deeply cemented in this atmosphere.

The music was purely danceable. I do not recall seeing a single person standing still. With such intensive repetition, it is quite easy to just move without thinking. Half of the crowd was wearing earplugs, myself included. The base was so loud I could feel every beat in my chest — it drummed louder than my own heart. This kind of experience, with hearing protection, is physically liberating. I could quite literally feel nothing except the music. Although I’m not a huge fan of the childish lyrics, I must say that the music certainly helped reduce my relentless restless leg fidgeting. Maybe 100 gecs could get you to stop biting or tapping your nails.

I only worry about how long it will take before Les and Brady reach their “Sound of Metal” arc.

The songs would get stuck in my head, I almost found myself wishing some beats would never end. It was a completely new experience hearing high-pitched electronic music played live. All in all, I was ultimately impressed at the band’s ability to keep the crowd hype throughout the night, especially with consideration to its smaller size.

Regardless of its helpfulness, the duo consistently reaffirms that the music is not a joke despite the inspiration in memes or humorous jingles. I have to agree. The music is calculated and easily excels at getting stuck in the listener’s head. That should be enough to qualify as a good song. What 100 gecs brought to Boston at the Royale on Monday night proves that the city does not just enjoy its tea parties, but will also get down for a Kiki.

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