Live Review: METZ at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Remember the nineties? METZ does.

METZ band

Photo by David Waldman

Brooklyn just stepped into 2016 a fortnight ago. But in Music Hall of Williamsburg last night, it was 1995.

Canadian sensory assault METZ are a synthesis of Jesus Lizard and the noisiest parts of In Utero. The band is signed to nineties powerhouse Sub Pop – original home to grunge icons Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Mudhoney. Opening band Bully was grungy and shambolic. Their female vocalist sports a static electricity bedhead and L7 vocals. The combined effect of lineups like this makes for an eerie simulation of the decade I grew up in. It’s kinda like visiting a punk rock Epcot Center.

METZ ripped open their first song and promptly blew the hinges off my ears. Their distorted bass guitar has the electric crackle of a downed power line convulsing in a puddle. Frontman Alex Edkins was abusive to both his guitar and his throat, thrashing his way from the drum kit to the microphone and back. The band was so intensely loud that the riffs themselves often vanished into the deafening squall, weaving their way in and out of coherence. The lightshow, too, seemed designed for maximum seizure triggering; the combined effect of light and sound was spellbinding delirium.

The sheer adrenaline of their performance makes their live show an entirely different experience than their records. METZ’s recorded output scratches an itch for noisy riffs, but their sound is ultimately bogged down by repetitive compositions. On record, Edkins’ has a shortage of charisma and vocal range. Their live show is a different beast; his brutal energy and sheer enthusiasm are utterly riveting to witness in person.

A revival of nineties punk and grunge has been simmering for years now, and it’s finally boiling over. Call it The Year Punk Broke Again. Bands like METZ, Title Fight, Basement and their ilk have resurrected the sounds of my teen years for modern ears. METZ does the style with a bombastic aplomb that’s so invigorating, it feels like an urgent necessity. Bully, on the other hand, is a retro retread that does little to warrant the rehash of nineties rock styles.

Here’s video of METZ ripping live on Seattle’s KEXP.

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