WASHINGTON, September 14, 2012 –Metz’ set at DC9 Wednesday night may have lasted barely a half an hour. It may have even been shorter than that, because it certainly felt like it was over even before it began. They blistered through their set with a rapid succession of songs, simply plowing through the material, rarely acknowledging the crowd that was standing before them.
By the time they were done, in an odd counterpoint to the noise-rock laden sound they’d just detonated onto anyone who came into their sound space, they quietly started to pack up their stuff.
There’s a good chance a lot of people will take that first paragraph as being highly critical of Metz. Certainly a lot of people enjoy bands that draw out their sets, more or less, whether that involves audience-friendly stuff like taking their time with each song, chatting up their fans in between numbers, and a whole host of other crowd-pleasing reasons. That said, there’s a lot to be said for a band that takes brevity to heart the way Metz does.
The flash and sideshow antics just don’t apply to this three-piece ensemble hailing from Toronto. The trio simply wants to bludgeon the audience with earsplitting noise. Their quick show is evidence their intent on taking the quickest possible route to get to that. Everything Metz plays is quick, loose and to the point.
The guitar work here is angular and suitably distorted, if for no other reason that the fact it creates significantly greater sonic dissonance than listeners might expect. In opposition to this, the bass is thick, overpowering, and creates something of an acoustic bubble in which the band seems to become trapped, further amplifying its tremendous force.
The drums, which are sufficiently loud to fill whatever empty sonic space remains after the primary assault, backup the band. Topping this out, the vocals are almost perfunctory, seemingly a tacked-on necessity as they echo through the performance space, seemingly as a reminder of what a normal song sounds like.
Metz is the type of band Steve Albini, record producer, outspoken critic, and guitarist for the band Shellac, would absolutely love. This is relatively important to point out for a number of reasons. The big one is to demonstrate that Metz and their sound aren’t necessarily going to be appreciated by everyone. Albini’s musical philosophy is basically the notion that noise taking the form of songs should be embraced. For Albini, the closer a band can move towards that loose, loud, and overpowering sound, all the better. This is the type of band Metz is.
The best songs in Metz’ set here hit the middle ground between “Drive like Jehu” and “Shellac.” They’re not quite pure noise, and retain a lot of clever live song craft. But at the same time, the loose feel to their sound can prove quite jarring.
As evidenced by Wednesday’s performance, it’s also easy to see that when they’re not on their game and playing a little too fast and a little too loose, the over all effect might be quite off-putting to an audience.
But then there are nights like the one at DC9 when they’re on point. While the set might be short, Metz is a band that will absolutely leave an impression, even if the audience isn’t quite sure what hit them over the head.
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