Bi-Coastal Double Concert Review: Metz

on Nov 27, 2012
A rare moment of calm during Metz's 11/20 set at the Knitting Factory in NYC
Hello and welcome to the first ever Dear Jerks Bi-Coastal Double Concert Review, and possibly the first ever bi-coastal double concert review. We're not sure. We both had the good fortune of seeing Metz play this month; first in Seattle on November 2nd (Kyle), and then in New York on November 20th (Ian). We decided to conduct this little exercise before either show had happened, so up until this point we've yet to discuss our impressions at all. This is our way of telling you, dear readers, that we apologize if this goes off the rails, or never actually finds its way on to them.

Kyle: I guess I'll start this thing off since the Seattle show was first, way back at more or less the dawn of time. Going in, I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't heard much about their live show, and Metz is one of those bands where it's hard to predict how their sound will translate from record to stage. Well, that question was answered approximately one minute into opener "Knife in the Water." Right away I was impressed with how tight and polished it was, something that was ultimately a major takeaway of the show for me. Dudes are gonna make themselves some fans on the road.

Ian: Agreed. Many focused records have been made by bands that won't or can't bring the same preciseness on stage with them. Not that long into the necessarily short set, a drunk Mosh Bro started yelling "don't give up!" at Metz in between songs. Eventually Chris Slorach, the bass player, shot back: "Have you heard our album? We're halfway done...we're playing everything." They jammed a bit extra on their last song, but otherwise they were tightly focused. Wish the same could be said for some of the gentlemen in the aforementioned mosh pit. Did your show even have, as our grandparents used to call it, 'slam dancing'? This was the first time I've seen something like that at The Knitting Factory. The impromptu mosh pit was surprisingly big, a little swirling nebula in the center-front of the floor. It started with the second song, and after they played it singer/guitarist Alex Edkins said "thanks for moving around" completely deadpan, but honest. There was even one successful stage dive during the last song.

Kyle: It's funny you mention the unexpected moshing, because out here the dudes (and it was mostly dudes) up near the front were unusually stationary, even by Seattle standards. The whole crowd was pretty subdued actually, but I attributed it mostly to the strangely early start time. Metz hit the stage at 9 as the third band on the bill, and even with a short encore I found myself at a bar with drink in hand and a belly full of pizza by 10:30. It's funny, because I came out of the show having been thoroughly entertained, but also feeling just a tiny bit disappointed that they seemed to pretty much keep their crayons inside the lines for most of the night. That's not to say that they weren't fantastic, but maybe I was just geared up for a squelching cacophony? I'm curious to know if you had any similar impressions, or whether maybe I should just stop nitpicking?

Ian: From as soon as we got to the venue, the entire front of the stage was lined with kindly fellas with quality cameras, and a few fragile-looking youngsters (it was an all-ages show). I was expecting an audience like yours. Sad to say, I've never truly spent time in a pit, but I'm down with being on the border. One of my favorite concert memories involves being slammed into by a guy three times my weight at a massively oversold Botch show at the Breakroom in Seattle (which has now been Chop Suey for a decade). The flailers at Metz weren't quite of that caliber, but I felt relieved for the band that there was a legitimately chaotic element in the crowd. It also brought all the non-moshers closer together by default. Fittingly enough, I ended up being part of the 'barrier,' and felt a bit bad for the people directly behind me. It was close quarters in that little room.

As for staying inside the lines, when they first went on and started up an intro feedback wail, Edkins spent quite a while trying to undo the tie that held back the black curtain on the side of the stage so that it would block out the other lights. He didn't give up until it finally came loose, and it did create a cool effect. They almost looked like they were in a diorama. The determination to get the curtain closed seemed to allude to a rigid creative vision. But then there are times when Edkins looks like he's about to scream and shake his way into an epileptic fit. If that's all timed and planned out, well, good on them. They sold pizza at your show?

Kyle: Dude, selling pizza at shows definitely falls into that 'best/ worst' category of ideas. Sadly, Barboza is not trying out that particular social experiment, and I had to get my pizza up the block after they cleared out the venue for some other event. Anyway!

Man, I wish we had a mosh pit in Seattle. The statuesque crowd staring at Metz tear through their set bordered on surreal. Eventually I even started to feel bad for the band. It must be tough to be putting everything out there and to get so little feedback. Some people were noticeably more into opener Survival Knife, and I suspect that maybe much of the crowd was there to see them and then stuck around for Metz? I dunno. I to have to say that Survival Knife did absolutely kill it. Featuring founding members of Unwound Brandt Sandeno and Justin Trosper, I expected to see a set of epic, sprawling, post-hardcore. Nope. Instead, it was as if these dudes decided that the kids had royally messed up emo (fact) and decided to show them how it should have been done. I'm definitely looking forward to their debut. You mentioned on Twitter that you had a pretty good opener experience in NY as well?

Ian: You mean emo from the emocore era, like DC/SoCal in the late-80's/early-90's? Yeah, I can hear that. I can also hear, of course, early Unwound in there as well, which is an incredibly welcome sound. They haven't played NYC yet (as far as I know), but I've spent some quality time with what's floating around Youtube and such. Those guys have needed to get back to making this kind of music for a long time; thankfully, they are now.

But, yes: Brooklyn's Yvette played second, before Metz, and made a seriously impressive racket for being two seemingly well-mannered guys of average build. Half of the time it felt like they might be improvising, but the other half of the time it was clear that they weren't, and that's what made the parts where it felt like they might be improvising all the more impressive. Unless, y'know, they really were just messing around, in which case it still sounded cool. Heretofore unbeknownst to me, they've been around for a bit, and have this here bandcamp. For what it's worth, they are playing Living Bread in Bushwick this Friday. Catch this new part of the rich lineage of Northeast noise duos like Lightning Bolt and Mouthus before they play ATP, or something.

Metz are now in one of the most exciting band career phases to watch, as opposed to the inevitable fat years or the greying-age acoustic tour. They've been honing their set for some time, the debut document is finally out of the gates, they have a well endowed label behind them, critical momentum, and a live show that should be making converts by the dozens and turning out bigger audiences with each go-around they make. Where do you think they go from here?

Kyle: Yeah, Metz seem to have a lot working for them right now. I'm sure they'll be playing a much bigger room next time they roll through Seattle, that's for sure. What's a bit harder (and exciting) to guess is where their sound will go from here. They are one of those rare young bands that seems to have a fairly fully realized sound, and the chops to execute it on stage as well as on record. The question for them (and contemporaries like Cloud Nothings) is: will they be content to mine the same territory for a while longer, or will they begin distancing themselves from their 90s indie rock reference points? I don't think there's a right answer to that question myself, so I'll be eagerly awaiting whatever comes next.

Ian: I was hoping you were going to say "make a rock opera about the life of David Yow."