Metz Get Deservedly Loud at Music Hall of Williamsburg

January 15th, 2016

Metz – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 14, 2016

Metz - Music Hall of Williamsburg - January 14, 2016

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

Music Hall of Williamsburg has some punk-rock history, both as its own incarnation and as the DIY rock venue before it, Northsix. The certain alchemy of a noisy rock show can act as a séance for these punk-rock spirits of yesteryear, transforming an otherwise mellow New York City crowd into fans gone berserk. I’ve seen this happen in the exact location only once before, at a Leftover Crack show on New Year’s Day. But the loud-rock trifecta booking of Big Ups, Bully and Metz brought out these spirits to roost yet again. You know for sure it’s happened when the venue lights flick on at the end of a show and everyone looks instantly hung over, like every last drop of energy has been exorcised from their souls, at least for the night.

Music Hall was packed from the beginning for opening band Big Ups, a hometown group specializing in rock reminiscent of early ’90s band Slint. They showcase sound that’s as equally unsettling at a slow simmer as it is when it boils over unexpectedly, complete with angular riffs that’ll poke you the second you start to drift off. Their closing song was about wearing a turtleneck on school picture day, feeling anxious about it being around your neck and throwing up. Punk rock! Nashville’s Bully—following an impressive 2015 with the release of their debut album, Feels Like, landing on many critics’ best-of-the-year lists—were next, led by the formidable Alicia Bognanno, who has one of the most impressive, dynamic scream-sing hybrid voices out there right now, with an ability to stretch from one end of that spectrum to the other that’s as impressive as combining the two when her songwriting calls for that expression of urgency. A crowded venue for a band that’s not even headlining usually signals that much greater things are to come from them, something I’d place bets on in the years ahead.

Somehow enough energy remained for things to get exceedingly crazy for Metz, so much so that they had to make sure no one in the crowd was getting hurt a few times (no one was, but some cell phone lights were turned on to look for some guy’s glasses at one point). Let’s blame their relentless set, one that never really bothered lowering the energy. Frontman Alex Edkins introduced one song saying, “We’re going to slow things down a bit,” and I recall laughing at what was being considered slower. To call Metz a punk band is almost disingenuous. In many ways they’re fighting punk-rock orthodoxies. They play fast and loud not to gloss over mistakes but to highlight their precision. The three take pride in their tightness, a badge they can wear with pride. Metz are a live band first, if only because the sound they slay is one you have to see to believe. Take drummer Hayden Menzies as an example, who whips his entire body’s force into his drums to get the right sound. Consider them one of the loudest bands in the world right now, not just because they play at high volume, but also because they deserve to do so. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks