It’s loud, it’s rude and it’s the future, dude: METZ modernize punk rock

METZ **** (4 stars out of 6); March 4 at Ideal Bar

Punk is such a filthy word. These days, many bands shy away from the term, scared of being lumped in with the movement’s hedonistic, late seventies heyday. There wasn’t a Sex Pistols t-shirt in sight at Vega this Monday, yet Canadian three-piece METZ were on a mission to prove that punk is not just alive and well, but better than ever.

This current buzz-band have been met with huge success after releasing their eponymous debut last October on famous Seattle based indie label Sub Pop. Their idiosyncratic sound is a mixture of Nirvana grunge, foot stomping noise rock and the raucous live energy of classic punk. While they haven’t quite managed to sell-out the venue tonight, the audience is excited, arriving early to swarm the merchandise table, soak up some booze, and chinwag to drummer Hayden Menzies about his superb tattoo collection.

Unfortunately, we all have to wait a little longer before METZ’ ‘bring the noise’. In one of the worst cases of concert planning flagrancy, we have to suffer the Michigan based support band Frontier Ruckus. OK, they’re not awful, but their Bright Eyes’ inspired melodic folk rock – with added banjo twanging, no less – is out of step with what is to follow. Rather than firing us up, the crooning melodies soap us down, meaning that our acclaimed headliners have to work extra hard to get the audience aflame again.

But as soon as METZ’s singer/guitarist Alex Edkins chugs into the opening reverberating chord, the audience is back on side. After unsettling some eardrums, I see several attendees flood to the bathroom to make impromptu earplugs out of toilet paper (admittedly not very punk rock, but saving eardrums may be worth losing face). Just before the band crash into the second breakneck track of the set list, the audience cautiously shuffles closer to the stage, curious but afraid of what is to follow.

Three songs in, and already the three skinny white boys on stage are steaming and dripping with sweat. Despite his unassuming appearance, Edkins makes for an impressive front man. He bounces across the tiny stage, prescription goggles tightly fastened to his head, whilst screaming the lines ‘You’re wasted, you’re already dead’. He teasingly quips about the elaborate Manowar concert upstairs in Store Vega, who’s brand of bland power metal fortunately doesn’t get the chance to pervade this happening punk show.

At risk of stealing his limelight is Hayden Menzies’ ferocious speed-drumming. Think Animal in The Muppets, and you’re not too far off the mark.

But remaining true to punk rock form, the show has its imperfections. During the discography-exhausting forty minute set, it’s clear that varied song structure and instrumentation isn’t top of the METZ’s songwriting priorities. But while the performance may get a little bit samey at times, it’s always spunky enough to wow most, even if a minority of the crowd is left wanting more range.

Despite this, METZ have proved enough here tonight to live up to their hype. Their first ever gig in Denmark, be sure to expect them back sometime soon for another night of sweaty, punk rock shenanigans. 

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