METZ at Whelan’s, Dublin, Friday 6 November 2015

Whelan’s is the perfect setting for METZ’s brand of punk rock for the 21st century: cramped, dank, dark and sweaty. The smaller, intimate setting is perfect for the primal energy of the Canadian power trio’s sound and at the same time neither band nor venue are quite for the uninitiated – METZ being the brutal, raw, melody rinsed with gravel noise makers that they are, and Whelan’s long being the indie Mecca for Ireland.

First on the bill is Tuam, Co. Galway based three piece Oh Boland who break the ice with sloppy pop-rock and shambolic charm. With a much less dense sound than their North American peers of the evening, the lads surprise with a wild performance and devil may care nonchalance, laying down ragged but cloyingly cute pop-rock like cheeky kids with Lego blocks. It can be argued that the band’s recorded work to date doesn’t do them justice based on their electric live performance, which was relatively well received considering it was only seen by the early birds.

When the time finally came for the main attraction to hit the stage, METZ pulled very few punches. Opener Headache whips the crowd into an immediate frenzy, something METZ clearly wanted with the inclusion of the equally heavy yet infectious Wait in Line, Dirty Shirt, and Knife in the Water in the early goings of the show.

This did backfire on the group throughout the night, however, with the show being marred by technical issues and interference from over-zealous attendees. Four songs in and frontman Alex Edkins’ guitar comes unplugged during frantic live favourite Get Off, his mic stand was knocked to and fro during new cut Eraser. During a dirge-like jam dedicated to their Irish counterparts in Girl Band, his bandmates vamp on a groove until it becomes so obvious that he is forced to admit, “We broke something, wait a sec.”

Bassist Chris Slorach partook in some damage control of his own in introducing barn burner Spit You Out (“This is the one where you guys move up and down, not side to side”). After Acetate requires a do-over, he quips “Sorry for kicking you, dude, but you guys keep jumping up here and that’s why this shit keeps stopping”.

But punk rock is not about perfection and METZ carried on undeterred, upping the intensity level to finish off the show, including a high-octane cover of The Damned’s classic Neat Neat Neat, seemingly closing the show with Wasted before re-emerging to clear out the room with an extended version of Wet Blanket. Both tracks provide ample opportunity for METZ to showcase their skilled musicianship: the former devolving into a discordant motif section with thundering drum rolls before kicking right back in the pocket. The latter meanwhile broke down into a neverending holocaust of feedback and rhythm section vamping.

Though certainly not perfect, the gig did enough to satiate the Dublin crowd’s lust for pure noise through commanding stage presence and eardrum shattering riffage. We live in a cruel and random world, but it’s also beautiful. METZ make beauty from chaos, and it’s a must-see.