Viet Cong and Girl Band @ the Outer Space Ballroom

The tour between Viet Cong and Girl Band could have easily been called “America imports two of the most poorly named bands” tour. At this point, Viet Cong is almost more famous for Oberlin College cancelling their performance than for their music. Girl Band on the other hand, are four unassuming males from Dublin. Almost every interview I have read conducted with them addresses their band name with members brushing it off as “its just a stupid name.” Of course that explanation has not ceased to piss off some folks.

My guess is that those who are pissed off at the name Girl Band would equally be pissed off with their music. Labelling the band as noise or post-punk would be succinct but it wouldn’t tell the entire story. Daniel Fox does not play the bass quite as much as he manipulates it through a series of pedals and a beer bottle. You never catch him grabbing a pick or plucking his bass. Similarly guitarist Alan Duggan creates sounds with his guitar that I have never heard before. I was mesmerized by his pedal set up trying to figure out how he was getting his guitar to sound like a buzz saw, a synth pad, and a noise machine all at once. The unique sound was helmed by singer Dara Kiely (which although it sounds like it could be a girl’s name, its not). His vocals are somewhere between drunken rambling and guttural screaming. Together the band is chaos yet enthralling.

I pitied Viet Cong for having to follow Girl Band; there was no way Viet Cong could pull something off as unique and captivating as the Dubliners then again, they didn’t really try to. The Calgary foursome’s sound fits under the broad umbrella of post-punk but felt much much different than Girl Band. Viet Cong felt a bit more in control. Guitarist Daniel Christiansen often had his eyes closed as he picked with precision every guitar riff. In between songs the band tuned without talking to the crowd or engaging too much. It didn’t feel robotic but it was obvious this was a band used to touring. Coming off a European tour where reveals they played roughly the same eight songs every night, it was no different at the Outer Space. Filled with mostly the seven songs from their January released self-titled album, the band did jam a bit building some of that psychedelia that gets mixed in to their 80s alternative rock sound. A cover of Bauhaus’ “Dark Entries” really solidified that sound.

In the end, it was hard not to leave the show buzzing about Girl Band. The Irish boys’ first time in Connecticut really captivated the crowd but both bands were worth seeing. It was the kind of tour that did not draw a ton of people on a Wednesday night in Connecticut but I hope does not deter either Viet Cong or Girl Band from returning.

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