Hats off to the god of rock music, if such a deity exists. Tonight is the second time in as many weeks I’m at a gig where I’m just as excited about seeing the support as I am the headline act. Clearly I’m not alone, there’s a very decent crowd towards the front of the stage to see Detroit’s Protomartyr who’s recent album The Angel Intellect (read our excellent review and an interview) is surely a hot favourite for album of the year in those all important / meaningless end of year polls.
The vast majority of tonight’s Protomartyr set is taken from the latest album and despite some sound problems (the bass cutting out every so often) it’s a pretty punishing but magnificent experience to see them play. Their post punk doom is crafted expertly through inventive guitar lines, sharp and clear one second, harsh and intimidating the next. The intro to ‘Pontiac 87’ is beguiling with its apocalyptic sounding guitar lead over a punching bass line.
They’re a captivating lot, none more so than vocalist Joe Casey who has donned a blue suit, can of lager in one hand and mic stand in the other. The only reason I mention the clothing is because I can’t decide if he looks resplendent or if it’s the same suit he’s worn every day for 10 years. His monotone singing style is delivered with sneers, grimaces and very little movement save for the odd finger pointing at his own chest. He looks drunk, maybe he is? Who cares? It’s evident his words mean a lot to him and he’s at his most animated when prowling the stage shouting “ride out…I don’t think so” during the wonderful punk thrash of ‘The Hermit’. Songs like ‘Dope Cloud’, ‘Clandestine Time’ and ‘The Devil in His Youth’ sound epic, particularly during the louder parts. They close on ‘Why Does it Shake?’ and leave nobody in any doubt they’re worth the hype that they’ve probably never wanted. Don’t think they’ll be playing support act for long although my overriding impression is that they couldn’t care less if they’re playing in front of 5 or 500 people.
Three songs into the Metz set and the band are asking “are you ok dude?” to the guy going ballistic at the front. He doesn’t look ok, his face is absolutely covered in blood from a head cut, the result of slamming his head off a concrete pole, the stage or some other audience member in the usual act of stupidity that’s an excuse for dancing to this kind of music. Regardless, he seems bemused to even be asked, “Aye Ah’m Ok, Ah’m fae Motherwell” is his response to much amusement from the rest of the crowd. The band are immune to this local humour, they just chuck him a towel and get on with it, urging the crowd to “cut out the tough guy shit”.
From the opening bars of ‘Headache’ (appropriately named for our friend from Motherwell) Metz don’t give an inch. Their brand of hardcore is punishingly fast and loud and it’s being lapped up by everyone here to see them. Their pace is relentless and they seem to be nothing but a blur on stage as they plough through song after song from their two albums to date. Despite the brutality of their music there’s a catchiness to it as well, I’d yell along but the only person who’s voice is going to go the distance is on stage delivering. ‘Acetate’ sounds barbarous, new song ‘Eraser’ is similarly ruthless and so it goes on. My own set highlight is a particularly ferocious ‘Wasted’ where the band seem to somehow discover an extra bit of energy they haven’t already used despite this being the 2nd last song of the set.
Metz are a stunning live band. Every time I’ve seen them play it’s obvious they’re pouring out every ounce they’ve got for their audience. They’re like a illustration of all that’s great about hardcore punk, I swear there’s even sweat pouring from the scratch plates of their guitars. How they do this night after night is frankly miraculous but they pull it off. As an audience, we’re the lucky ones.
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