How I learned to stop hating and love the smell

Art by Tyler Farmer.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear a 100 gecs Boiler Room is happening near you? 

Do you think about their lasting impact on hyperpop? Do you think about how their stylistic fingerprints are all over the contemporary digicore scene, nearly a half decade from their initial breakout? Maybe you reflect fondly on that strange cultural transition period that birthed them, from 2017 to 2019, where the line between terminally online and socially acceptable behavior seemed to finally evaporate. 

Me? I think of this:

100 gecs’ enshrinement in Gen Z memedom has made it difficult for me to parse the real from the fake, genuine love from ironic displays of fandom. Truthfully, the last thing that comes to my mind is a packed out yet lowkey Latino dance club and bar off Sunset, brimming with a diverse crowd ready to move on a damp March night. Y2K ravers, IG fashion baddies, normcore CS major looking mfers, hardcore leather folks, streetwear sneaker bros, punks, emos, goths of all races and genders (plus electronic duo The Hellp) make up the eclectic crowd at Club Bahia in Echo Park.

At the helm are the gecs themselves, Laura Les and Dylan Brady. The duo command the chaos from behind the DJ table, flanked on all sides by audience members. Laura’s in a vintage white Budweiser t-shirt, Dylan’s got on a perfectly faded black hoodie & trucker hat emblazoned with a Grateful Dead logo and weed leaf. They deftly take turns conducting the mixing board, alternating between twisting knobs and banging their heads.   

100 gecs. All photos by Cuautemoc Xocoyotzin.

This crowd is a supposedly uncommon sight for an LA alt show: folks letting themselves go and actually dancing like no one’s watching.  As I look around, I don’t see the cringe monolith of gecs Twitter fans that lives in my head, I see a cross section of subcultures and identities with a shared sick taste.

Fans erupt from the outset with the gecs’ set opener, “Where’s Your Head At” by Basement Jaxx. The mob is inflamed by each transition, a flurry of swinging beaded necklaces and greasy hair. A couple makes out on center stage with reckless abandon as the gecs mix into Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” A remix of Future’s “I Serve the Base” reverberates our chest cavities as astonishingly unwatered down vodka sodas flow. The gecs cut to Vince Staples’ “Yeah Right,” inciting a stochastic flashing of the house lights. I take in the crowd as light refracts off the dance floor disco ball, making the oversized septum piercings and assorted chrome accoutrement shimmer. A thick haze hovers out and over the throbbing mass of dancers. The body sweat of hundreds of Gecheads condenses in the air, illuminated by strobing lights to create a glowing swirling sweaty mist of stank.   

The night’s high water mark is an unexpectedly nasty transition from Baby Keem’s crowd pleaser “ORANGE SODA” into the timeless “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada. The range of influences across this set feels like useful context for their long-awaited new album 10,000 Gecs, which journeys into Limp Bizkit impressions, Beck-like drum grooves and even tongue-in-cheek ska. The project feels like less of a departure for the duo than some are making it out to be. Listening to this expansive set, I get the feeling 100 gecs might be famous for hyperpop, but they never wanted to get boxed into that aesthetic or any other for that matter.

Sweat-drenched people with looks of euphoric relief trickle out of Club Bahia into the drizzling night. I wonder to myself: why were my expectations so subverted by such an incongruous yet inviting scene? My perception of the gecs, and by extension their fan base, was primed by the impression they left on angsty college freshman me. The scene that surrounds me now is nothing like the old image in my head of the duo and their fanbase. I’d never expect to have had the time I did with such a disparate crowd, brought together by 100 gecs of all acts. Even if it did in fact smell crazy in there, I’m proud to have been part of the smell.

Thoughts? Let us know