Entering Berlin’s Lido to the murmurs of Brighton’s The Soft Walls set a dark, hypnotic mood for this evening. The 400-capacity venue walled in red velvet has a certain Black Lodge vibe, especially with this kind of woozy soundtrack. Their extended, krauty post-punk jams, awash with endless reverb, drew the arriving punters into an early evening trance, setting the scene for Viet Cong.
The Calgary post-punks broke instantly into Throw It Away from their 2013 debut Cassette EP, gripping the attention with its stark urgency. Bassist/vocalist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace, who found their way as two thirds of underrated art-noise heroes Women, held a powerful driving centre, while guitarists Scott Munro and Danny Christiansen struck their sharp, dissonant guitar stabs and waves of visceral noise from left and right. The unflinching tightness which defined their debut album communicates clearly on stage. Munro and Christiansen switched between intricate guitar playing and hitting chords on synths, building that atmospheric and calculated sound, minimalistic and expansive all in one piercing nugget. Wallace is a swinging, flailing machine, while Christiansen is an absolute riot on guitar, eyes closed the whole time, nonchalantly hitting every off-kilter rhythm like a shrug.
When later quizzed on his performance, Danny claimed we caught him on a good night – the night before in Aarhus they’d been sat round in the venue for 12 hours being offered beer. According to Danny, it’s impossible for a Canadian to refuse this offer, resulting in a very drunk and pretty sloppy show. The latter is difficult to imagine.
A marked highlight was single Continental Shelf, where both guitarists cracked out fresh instruments and opened up. Christiansen fell to his knees and fuzzed the beat up old Rickenbacker guitar to the speakers, creating a deafening din. But as with every element of their sound, there was calculation in the midst of the flood; the set was carefully considered, energy swelled and subsided, and the room remained engaged.
Viet Cong wrapped up the show with the epic extended noise jam Death, the final track of their album. They left the stage without looking back, Danny last, kicking his guitar into the speaker. It was over, no need or question of an encore. Much like the conviction embedded throughout their recordings, there’s no room for doubt – and that’s hard to argue with.