Published Apr 14, 2018Noise rock and rural Ontario don't obviously go hand-in-hand, but that didn't stop a clutch of fans from trucking out to Whitby, 40 minutes outside of Toronto, for the chance to catch METZ play in a barn. Capped by an aluminum roof and featuring a rough balcony stacked with couches overlooking the "stage" area — there was no riser for the band to perform on — the space was certainly more deluxe than some DIY/all-ages gigs, even if the bathroom was essentially a darkened field.
Though they share a label with their openers, METZ were no doubt lured to this unique setting by Whitby's own Chastity. Their primary creative force, Brandon Williams, set up the gig on a friend's property as a live-streaming fundraiser for Frontenac Youth Services, a local mental health non-profit.
Backed by a three-piece band, Williams worked through tracks from their forthcoming debut Death Lust. An amalgam of influences, from hardcore to shoegaze, with touches of Deftones and Helmet thrown in, the playing lacked some of the visceral punch of Chastity's most recent recordings, but Williams sold their emotional punch nevertheless. The tall and lanky singer wandered around the space, blurring the line between stage and crowd while his players remained stoically grounded near their amps.
With an increasingly industrial edge to their music, METZ felt even more out of place in the makeshift venue. Not that that stopped them from delivering another pulverizing set. The small but packed crowd were quickly whipped into a frenzy, with one fan repeatedly dangling his body over the mosh pit while holding onto a support beam with his legs.
METZ shows have always been more about the cumulative sonic pummelling than a songwriting showcase. Oddly though, the barn's acoustics and DIY sound setup provided the greatest aural clarity I've ever witnessed at a METZ show. Suddenly "Get Out," "Eraser" and "Mess of Wires" were individual experiences. Happily, the detailed sonic experiments that give their music such unique character on record transfer to the stage. Who knew?
Though the setup sounded gimmicky, the results were a total win. Divorced from their usual urban environs, both bands embraced the setup to be part of a pretty unforgettable experience for both artist and fan.