On Wednesday, October 17th, Toronto's Metz played an openly secret show with Baltimore's Roomrunner, New Zealand's Die! Die! Die! and Brooklyn's Beasty.
Beasty is a local band with whom I was previously unfamiliar and due to CMJ wackiness I didn't manage to catch the whole set but what I caught was good. Angular, start stop, slightly nerdy rock made for nerdy listeners. I couldn't find a website for them, but I could find this Bandcamp page which has a handful of demo tracks. Personally, I like the repetative nature of “Shadow” where the guitar eventually takes over the rhythm section to assert itself in the final seconds of the song. Hopefully they will pop up more here and there and we can catch a full set from them.
Die! Die! Die! is from New Zealand and the last time they were here was for CMJ when they played the worst showcase I have ever seen. New Zealand flies out the best and the brightest from their music scene and I swear to God each time they select the bands seemingly at random because each time I've gone, there's been no cohesion beyond “from New Zealand.” I'm certain the bands love it because the showcases are well attended which lures people in with promises of free food and drink but I've never managed to remember a single act beyond Die! Die! Die! which doesn't bode well for “money to recognition” ratio.
It's even worse because Die! Die! Die! is a band I actually managed to know about before that CMJ when I saw them open for Wolfmother (shut up) in Washington, DC. Die! Die! Die!'s guitarist/singer Andrew Wilson decided that he had no interest in playing anywhere near the stage, so he climbed up speaker stacks, onto balconies and threw himself around as though this were some 70s physical therapy session in a sanitarium rather than some boring 70s rock retread concert (ha ha! Remember “Woman”? What were we thinking?). Moreso than the actual performance the real power was in the spare song structure which spoke more about the desire to get the hell out of your head for a while because all these voices are just driving you crazy.
Die! Die! Die!'s music always sounds slightly off, like the music they're playing has been cut up and reconfigured but with little pieces lost in the editing room so it will start and stop in mid-measure or phrase which makes it sound like (I swear I hate myself for saying this) post-bop on its way to free jazz as though they'd heard of three minute pop structure and said “the hell with that.” It's a sound that's slightly smoothed out a bit. They opened with “A.T.T.I.T.U.D.” off of their self-titled album but have abandoned the earliest songs likes “Ashtray! Ashtray!” Which is understandable as they're about 8 years old at this point but if you only see a band once every two years, you kind of want to hear the songs you love.
Which is not to say that the new songs are not enjoyable. Promises, Promises is a great record (and “ECHOECHO” kind of sounds like “Ashtray! Ashtray!” if you ignore everything but the chorus which is very easy to do) and Form is also pretty good but I haven't heard anything newer from them, so this tour was a bit of a treat even if they carried no albums with them to sell.
Roomrunner is a band from Baltimore which already carries a lot of baggage, add to this the fact that intoner / guitarist Denny Bowen was in the almighty Double Dagger and the potential for the band to collapse under the weight of expectations is trebled. Double Dagger was the greatest band that came out of the Wham City “movement” and even with a push from Thrill Jockey in the final years of the band's life, they never quite seemed to break through like they deserved. They had a rabid fan base which will keep the band alive, and I'm certain that our inevitable 20 year reunion shows will be crazy affairs as all of a sudden people who can't be bothered today will murder for a ticket to see them tomorrow.
Regardless; new band, new beginnings. Roomrunner is another catchy angular post-punk noise rock band that loves the 90s and distortion and hates songs. Roomrunner's sound is helped out by a really strong rhythm section and dual dueling guitars that act in harmony and dissonance to expand the filed of sound a bit. If you watched both “Headbanger's Ball” and “120 Minutes” you will probably love this band. Denny's vocal inflection is what really grabs me; it's flat, like totally atonal. A flat line that goes from point a to point b without dipping or peaking. When people make fun of goth music singers, this is what they sound like. You can check out the Supervague EP here. Pay attention to “No Wait,” even as the song climaxes in the choruses, Denny's “No Waaaaaaaaaaaait” sounds like every other part of the song just as though it's been extended. The passion is more in the musical structure and if you get a song stuck in your head you'll be try to recreate the bass line instead of sing the chorus (bom bom BOM bombom).
I feel totally unqualified to talk about Metz as I was unfamiliar with them except by reputation until this show. That never stopped me before, so let's go. Metz's album is fucking amazing. Everything you've heard is basically correct. Young, Canadian and Loud. Google up their past and their bio and go buy their album because it's weaponized noise rock; distortion is a weapon and they are armed to the teeth. But don't see them at a festival. Go see them in the smallest, darkest room you can find; where the audience will do more than just stare straight ahead waiting for the indie pop sunshine and kitten headliner. Go see them in the darkest, hardest pit you can find. The best venue would be a forgotten fallout shelter as the world ends in flames; but until we get that, do what you can with what you have.
Shouts to Alyse of EULA for convincing me to stick around and catch their set instead of ducking out to go see some raps.