If there were baseball cards for Sub Pop bands, Toronto hardcore band METZ would be the 1.0 benchmark for live performance batting average. They just don't make 'em like METZ every day. No matter where they play, whether it be a massive festival stage (like Sub Pop's own Silver Jubilee several years ago) or an opening set in a tiny club, chances are, they will steal the show completely. After touring relentlessly for their debut eponymous LP, METZ are back this year with II, an album that builds on its predecessor with terrifyingly formidable precision. Singles like "Acetate" somehow exceed the unmatchable power of "Wet Blanket" and "Rats", while even further dialing in on the band's songwriting. It's truly a wonder of a record. That all being said, we've been drooling to see what METZ can do with these songs on the stage, in their absolute most natural habitat. On their first Seattle stop in support of II, METZ brought the roof down completely. With the help of Brooklyn punk act Big Ups, Tuesday night was a rousing night of rock and roll done right.Big Ups dropped their first LP early last year with Eighteen Hours of Static. It's a record that braves a lot of terrain. There are pieces of hardcore, pieces of true emo, and hints of prevailing screamo mixed with spoken word, all without ever diving too deep into any specific territory. The resulting mixture is abrasive, furious, and incredibly refreshing. Here tonight, lead singer Joe Galarraga rocks a The Fame-era Lady Gaga t-shirt whilst screaming his head off one track at a time. The mixture of tunes here is heavy on new material. Joe makes mention of a new LP in the works, and by the sound of what they are playing here tonight, it's going to be another progressive mixture of diverse sounds, heavy on some very personal lyrics on Joe's part. One song, "National Parks", talks of his mother in the hospital. After working through many new songs and the fantastic 18 Hours single "Goes Black", the band finish off with what I hope to God is the single from the next record. It's a furious number with a fantastic central hook and I want to it on repeat in my headphones as soon as possible. Big Ups brought a great opening set and got the crowd amped and ready to thrash once METZ arrived.
As METZ ascended the Neumos stage, cheers erupted and chaos began in pretty traditional METZ form. It took about half a minute of opener "The Swimmer" for the front four rows to explode into a mosh pit (the half a minute or so before the song itself explodes into bombastic fireball). With a sharp break, Hayden Menzies drives into a fury on the drums, as Alex Edkins and Chris Slorach pound the respective guitar and bass. The swirling guitar hook only seems to elevate as it gets louder. Alex has an uncanny ability to channel this sonic evolution into his own vocal presence. Every syllable feels more desperate than the last. It's this immediacy and command that make METZ the unstoppable live force that they are. In the words of "The Swimmer", "it's never gonna change".
With the sets they played for the first record, METZ rocked a thirty minute set without any mercy and exited the stage swiftly, leaving destruction and puddles of sweat in their wake. Two albums deep, the concept of an hour long METZ set sounds almost life-threatening in terms of its tenacity. Thankfully, choosing the best of the best from both records, the band have sculpted a bulletproof 13-14 track setlist that really can't be beat. I mean really, who is left wanting after a show that ends with "Acetate" straight into "Wet Blanket"? Surely, no one in the this room, including Big Ups lead singer Joe Galarraga who surfed his way to the front of the crowd for the last two tracks and moshed harder than anyone present for the last five minutes of madness. Celebrating METZ's second LP outing could not have been any more fun. The fans were happy, the band was happy - hell, even the opening act joined in the party. As Sub Pop central, Seattle is happy to play second home to METZ, and we can only hope they'll be making a second stop in our city to show off this new material again as soon as possible.
The ferocious new METZ record II is out now on Sub Pop.