100 Gecs Sell Out SOMA with Iconic Chaos

Zara Irshad and Alexander Olsen

There are only a few things that can get a crowd to cheer fervently for a solid hour before the artist graces the stage: A celebrity sighting, band members sneaking onto the stage early, or, in the case of a 100 gecs show — an audience game. 

As people filled into SOMA on May 17 for the duo’s sold out show, one audience member decided to pull up a photo of an American flag on his phone and held it up over his head for the rest of the crowd to see. The crowd erupted into boos and groans. He held up a British flag next and got the same response. When a pride flag flashed on the screen, the entire room lit up with applause and cheering. A trans flag came next and the crowd’s roar grew even louder. 

Although this whole encounter only lasted a few minutes, it perfectly captured the vibe and experience of a 100 gecs concert: chaotic, inclusive, and a little weird. That’s the beauty of it.

The pair’s sold out San Diego show was packed to the brim with eclectic 20-somethings and, oddly enough, a few young children accompanied by parents, sporting giant headphones to protect their ears. A lot of the audience members came dressed for the occasion; some dressed up in 100 gecs’ distinct purple and yellow wizard robes, and one man in particular donned a cape featuring a close-up photo of Mark Zuckerberg with the chemical equation for photosynthesis written underneath. He accessorized with a cone birthday hat. It doesn’t quite make sense, but again, that’s the beauty of a gecs show.

100 gecs’ electrifying 19-song set was saturated with tracks from their sophomore album “10,000 gecs,” which was released in March. The Missouri-bred hyperpop duo of Dylan Brady and Laura Les first met at a rodeo when they were in high school. They began recording music together in 2015 and released a self-titled EP, but they were ultimately unable to devote a lot of time to making music. It wasn’t until 2019 that Brady and Les independently released their debut album “1000 gecs.” This earned a 7.4 Pitchfork rating and garnered the attention of hip-hop collective Brockhampton who invited the duo to open for their “Heaven Belongs to You” tour later that year. The pair soon signed with Atlantic Records in 2020, and have been credited by critics at The New York Times and Rolling Stone with helping to carve out the world of hyperpop into the mainstream and pushing the boundaries of the genre itself. 

After electronic punk group Machine Girl warmed up the crowd with an energetic, yet sullen, set ending with frontrunner Matt Stephenson jumping into the crowd mid-song, 100 gecs took the stage. The duo cut straight to the chase with Laura Les briefly introducing most songs on the set, which lasted about an hour. Neither Les or Brady moved around the stage much throughout the set, but both brought full energy as they bounced along with the crowd all night. 

Despite the focus on “10,000 gecs,” Les and Brady paid tribute to their older projects, playing six tracks from their debut album and even a few from their earlier EPs. They returned to the stage for an encore performance of the cathartic fan favorite “gec to Ü” from their 2019 record and breathless track “bloodstains” from their self-titled EP. gecs’ music blurs the boundaries of even highly specific genres like hyperpop, with songs like “Hollywood Baby” and “Billy Knows Jamie,” incorporating electric guitar riffs and heavy drums reminiscent of rock and metal music, and tracks like “I Got My Tooth Removed” and “Frog on the Floor” that quite frankly sound like they could be in a kid’s TV show. The duo’s sonic range is one of their greatest assets, and likely the reason that their audience was so wide-ranging.  

The visuals tied the whole production together, from the intense fog and colorful strobe lights to the giant metal mesh screen that lit up with animations and close-ups of Les and Brady  — and my personal favorite: the huge frog that graced the screen during the group’s song “Frog on the Floor.” The entire atmosphere that the visuals, in conjunction with the energy from the crowd, created was by far the highlight; the concert was a truly distinct experience from start to finish.

Images courtesy of Alexander Olsen for The UCSD Guardian