Last night at El Korah Shrine, Jagjaguwar’s own Viet Cong continued their mission to reinvent post-punk.

While it may not be a complete overhaul, it’s at the very least a facelift in relation to their contemporaries. Noticeable immediately was the almost palpable chemistry these dudes share with one another. Feel-changes came effortlessly, and a casual playfulness existed between them even as the electric ferocity of their compositions overwhelmed the audience.

And, oh yeah. Drummer Mike Wallace, the veritable root of the band’s relentless sonic momentum, was pulling it all off with the use of just one arm (his right arm, to be exact.) I haven’t heard the back story of how he ended up with the bum appendage, but after watching them performing tonight at Treefort, I’ve got a strong feeling that it could be related to the tenacity with which he strikes his instrument.

El Korah went heavy on the fog machine for Viet Cong, and it suited the ominous atmosphere the band generated. It’s a difficult and slippery task trying to hammer down what precisely defines the Calgarian four piece’s brand of indie post punk. Certainly there is a deep intellectual understanding of the form. The frenzied approach of the early-2000’s Montreal scene is present, but far from overbearing, and never to the point of being derivative. Viet Cong refuses to have their lightning bottled, all while masterfully utilizing a form of expression that has long since been abandoned as a tapped well. That’s impressive, and worth recognition in and of itself.

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