By Jake Paxton
My ears are just for show now.
Yes, there are indeed a few pros and cons when it comes to being on the frontline of a noise-alt concert and sacrifices to health have to be made occasionally. The bruises and the consistent ringing in my head let me know that was not all one vivid dream, and it's safe to say that if my hearing had to go out in a blaze of glory, the experience that night was well worth it.
Canadian rockers METZ disapprove immediately the stereotype of the quiet, polite, and annoyingly dignified gentlemen north of the border when the file on stage to McClusky's "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues". Amps are switched on and there is immediately a surge of feedback that knocks you back a foot especially if you were as close as I was. They open with "The Swimmer", a single from their most recent album, II, a title which they later mock as "a boring name". Everyone rushes to get near the stage and it's quite a rush.
Early in the set they play my favorite song of theirs from the first record, "Negative Space". The crowd finally starts to slam and I am personally very pleased that this is the song in particular that sparks the commotion. On a very personal note, I had spotted someone I really wanted to destroy in the mosh pit early on before the show and I was granted my wish. It was quite a memorable experience.
The set continues to be exclusively high energy with a lot of the singer/guitar player jumping onto, then off of the drum kit. The bassist of the three-piece is also brimming with energy from the start, leaping at every breakdown. The drummer perhaps was the one that stole the show. His long hair covered his face as he used his entire body to drum. He is one of the most entertaining drummers I have seen, pummeling away Keith Moon like making sure that no tom or cymbal was left out on any given rhythm. He reminded me of Animal from The Muppets for his style and almost repulsive "no bullshit" charisma. He seemed to be using some kind of device between songs to play samples and manipulate feedback which was a rewarding touch.
The set led into "Kicking a Can of Worms" which is the only song of the set that begins pleasantly and quietly with only clear guitar. This, of course, is only a ruse as the other instruments come in, pounding away at a very Melvins' type of droning melody. By the end, there is so much feedback coming from the guitar amp that one is quite sure that their head is going to pop like an over-inflated balloon. The singer manipulates the feedback with distortion pedals while chanting "Nervous system" over and over for a solid two minutes; a very iconic moment in the set. This leads into a very fast paced song called "Nervous System" from their newest album. The pit begins suddenly and everyone is swallowed into it regardless of whether they wanted to be or not. The song is quick and ends in a cloud of dust.
They they go into "Acetate", an incredible tune so dissonant that every angry or angst-filled moment of your life suddenly surfaces, climaxing to an extremely violent moment in the pit where a twenty-year-old is thrown nearly ten feet into the other edge of the pit where he falls and is nearly trampled. The set ends with "Wasted" and everyone knows that its the last song so the crowd goes all out, only gaining momentum. There are a lot of dynamics in this song, perfect for letting loose your demons. At last, the spectacle ends in one last violent eruption of feedback and the show is over and the house music begins to play signifying no encore.
Still, out of nineteen recorded tracks, METZ managed to play fourteen of them. The guys were humble enough to hang out after the show by the merch table where I had my vinyl signed by the bass player. The singer could not be bothered as he was rushed by a small crowd who wanted to talk gear, but I was happy with the one signature. And speaking of humble, halfway through the set the singer announced that he was sad to have missed the burrito-eating contest, an event that was set at that venue a couple of weeks before. Both he and the bass player bragged that they would have surely won the contest and that they would be having their own burrito-eating contest after the show in its honor. I was not there for that, unfortunately, but I hope they were able to enjoy at least one Crescent Ballroom burrito while in town. Delicious!