METZ at the Hi-Dive
Unlike the historic garden city located near the French border that shares its name there is nothing peaceful or quiet about the three-piece band known as METZ. Hailing from that noise-rock Shangri-La also known as Toronto, Canada (a city that also boasts hometown status to recent indie rock heroes Japandroids) the band graced Denver with its presence this past week. I walked through the door of the musty, yet familiar Hi-Dive bar, not knowing then that the theme of that evening would be, ‘Jesus Lizard.’
First up were local heroes and former members of the Hot IQs/current members of Denver band Raleigh, Accordion Crimes. The band was introduced and fronted by Bryon Parker, a man whose attire and initial demeanor led me to believe he might be most comfortable leading a lecture on Political Philosophy. As the evening progressed it was obvious that this wasn’t your average, meek looking group of nerds. I watched as Parker ferociously snarled over the earnest tireless drumming of Dave Sprague and jarring bass of Brian Feuchtinger. This ferociousness translated to Accordion Crimes handling of the audience; when Parker was interrupted by a heckler who wished for ‘more cowbell’ Parker asked him to, ‘politely go expletive himself.’
Up next was No Joy. I’d heard a lot about this long distance project between L.A. based Jasamine White-Gluz and Montreal located Laura Lloyd. Watching No Joy I thought of the miserable lack of female representation in rock music, and the wonder and credibility that No Joy brought to the table with their debut album Ghost Blonde. The live instrumentation for their new album Wait to Pleasure was just as tight and filled-to-the-brim with enchanting shoegaze as was their debut album. But something felt lost as the band performed live. White-Gluz’s vocals were lost over the enveloping noise of the rest of the band. Perhaps the shine of new materials in a studio that was filled with technological goodies proved too tempting for this typically DIY band. I found No Joy forgettable. Regrettable, particularly because it was their performance I looked forward to the most.
METZ frontman Alex Edkin continued with the theme of mock meekness by shyly greeting the audience before fusing with his band members and turning into an instrumental steam engine. As I watched I realized this brief introduction was intentional. Edkins realized what only becomes obvious when the band plays: that is METZ is at their best when they’re furiously rocking away while Edkin shrieks over them. They’re a three headed, heavily instrumented, muscular rock hydra. The music is precise—an uncommon feat for post-hardcore punk/noise rock. Yet it’s noise rock with discernible organization, the sort that’s even distinguishable to the non-musically inclined. This is an intellectual’s noise rock.
At one point Edkin stepped to the top of drummer Hayden Menzies stand, playing his guitar over his head while touching the ceiling. It was then that, as if on cue, a man stormed the stage, and jumped into the crowd spurring a crowd surf. By the end of the show Edkins, Menzies, and bassist Chris Slorach were soaked in sweat.
Many reviewers mistake METZ as having little substance to their lyrics and instead figure them for an act focused primarily on besieging the masses with the power of rock. These reviewers are half-right. A live METZ show is certainly and intentionally designed to—to borrow a colloquialism—rock one’s face off. But it’s more than that. Listening to the lyrics of songs like, “Headache,” or the aptly titled, “Wet Blanket” one quickly realizes that the words are carefully chosen; think bleak lyrical concerns that are somehow not weighed down by their own misanthropy. Instead of wallowing Edkins channels his anxiety and apprehension into a manic release.
As I watched the crowd burst into a cathartic ball of flame before me I remembered my friend describing his experience at a METZ show weeks ago, from a gentleman who is a PhD candidate in mathematics and can easily be described as, ‘bookish.’ I remembered him describing METZ storming the stage and his sudden decision to take his shirt off and begin swinging it wildly overhead; an out of character move. I realized that this was the joy of a METZ show; there’s something about them that summons up the beast within.