Music Features

METZ: Live at the Church, Philadelphia, PA — 4.19.13

METZ screamer/guitarist Alex Edkins pushed his larynx to the brink following a very strong performance of The Mule, to which a member of the crowd exclaimed, “Dude!  Chill out!”  I’d never heard a member of any audience comment negatively about a band’s enthusiasm before, especially one to the level of METZ who were enduring the body-generated all ages heat of the Unitarian Church basement on the night of Friday, April 19th.  As far as I was concerned I was witnessing the torch being passed from The Jesus Lizard, whose reputation as “Best Live Band” followed them throughout the 90s.  No-one, especially at an all ages show, should’ve had any room to complain about how METZ performed.  You don’t see dedication like that anymore as far as I’m concerned, least of all from relatively new bands.

The show that evening began at 8PM amidst the slow accumulation of adolescents with backpacks and ill-gotten 40 oz. bottles.  The first band was White Lung, a Vancouver four-piece whose set had the rhythmic pulse of early Descendents and the femme-snarl of Sleater-Kinney.  Vocally, singer Mish Way draped the band’s assault with style and command, her melodies working well with the surfer-throb they employed.  Following were the New Jersey-based Night Birds, a very tight and charismatic hardcore outfit, and the band ably worked in Ron Reyes-era Black Flag and Zero Boys models like Play-Doh.  With amusing banter regarding their Philadelphia audience (“We’re going to eat a Tastykake salad and then have some peanut chews!”) and songs dedicated to Hulk Hogan, Night Birds received excellent crowd response and got the floor moving throughout their set. 

The headliner for the evening was Iceage, a quartet of Danish youth who cultivate an interesting blend of polite aggression and art-punk swagger.  Donning sweaters and collared shirts, Iceage seemed the school uniform equivalent of Richard Hell, an effective presence from singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt that inspired the females in the crowd to continually ask that he remove his shirt.  Iceage enjoyed healthy audience interaction, stage divers and crowd surfers demonstrating faith in their fellow fan that hands would find and support them, keeping them safe from the curled-up aluminum cans littering the hard floor. 

Following the onslaught METZ had brought to the audience, though, Iceage seemed pleasant and somewhat tame.  “You guys wanna hit the lights so we can get the show fucking started?” was bassist Chris Slorach’s cue.  From then on, a small floor lamp shining upon them, METZ launched into a relentless set that put power and performance at the forefront.  Edkins, by the second song, was strawberry red.  His hair was strung with sweat pearls and his shirt was transparent.   For me, the mere act of standing still and scribbling in a notebook was all I needed to do to sweat.  These guys were losing mass up there, jumping up and down, flinging their instruments as if amid seizure.  Edkin’s jerky movements were evocative of DNA’s Arto Lindsay, the type of unpredictable shake that seems most commonly associated with chills or involuntary reflex.  Drummer Hayden Menzies and Slorach, though relatively reserved next to the frontman, held to rhythm with vigor, percussion and bass tone colossal even through earplugs. 

METZ played for thirty minutes.  On my way out of the venue, I picked up the band’s LP and ran a few blocks to my car.  It was raining and it felt great.  Figuring I’d try and let the charge of the show stick with me a little longer, I played METZ on the way home and realized that the studio doesn’t do the band justice.