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METZ And Preoccupations At The Teragram Ballroom, Friday November 19th 2021


Canadian noisemakers METZ were back in town with a show at the Teragram ballroom headlined by another Canadian band named Preoccupations, and I couldn’t resist: I have seen them a few times before, but METZ’s stylish aggression is always a pleasure to witness.

Chicago’s FACS opened the night with a throbbing set looping on despair and dark screams. With the evocative description – “almost Fugazi for Goths” – they warmed up the room with unique art-punk and overall a very muscular style. This was especially true of drummer Noah Leger: centerstage, he was pulverizing his drumset with a ferocious appetite while the powerful rhythmic section was completed by bassist Alianna Kalaba. Brian Case, on guitar, was also providing dreary vocals to the mix of their gloomy abstraction. If their music was hard to pinpoint, they left a strong impression on the crowd with just thirty haunting minutes of epic noise.

METZ was next and the Toronto trio never disappoints. Right away, they installed their signature atmosphere filled with loud sonic assaults, Alex Edkins’s aggressive and barking vocals turning into chaos built by another excellent rhythm section consisting of Hayden Menzies on drums and Chris Slorach on bass. Their sound is right away huge, unleashing a beast that no room can contain, grinding the air around, and rearranging the surrounding. Many of their propulsive songs could be compared to a car crash in the making, and you have no other choice than participate: better, you are willing to take part of the mayhem with all the fibers of your body. They impressively went decibel-crescendo during the time of a song, in a completely empowering manner, and it didn’t take long for a mosh pit to start behind the first rows, to the band’s great satisfaction. Like a lot of bands, they released a record in 2020 and were heartbroken not being able to play the songs live. However, you could tell that Friday’s night performance was making up for a long absence from the stage. They mostly played songs from their latest release, “Atlas Vending,” but there also were a few oldies like “Headache” and “Get Off.” Honestly, whatever they played, the music was equally loud and chaotic and executed with the same fury and rage while the lyrics were exploring themes of social anxiety, addiction, isolation, restlessness, and paranoia, all too fitting for our pandemic times. For close to an hour, the trio sounded like a well-oiled machine delivering eardrum-bleeding/tinnitus-inducing sonic onslaughts, song after song, and if it could have sounded somewhat repetitive, nobody looked bored… on the contrary. Many of the songs were giant bangers, blending muscular aggression with noisy viciousness, while some of the new numbers were stretching pulsing-throbbing ideas with a constant terrifying threat looming under the skull-crushing music,

METZ is a thunderous force, and no matter how good a band is, they are a hard act to follow, but Preoccupations didn’t have any problems. Well, they are on tour together so this will happen every night. I hadn’t realized they were the band previously named Viet Cong, a name they had to abandon in 2016, facing cancellation when accused of “racism” and “cultural appropriation.” Frontman Matt Flegel said in 2016 that they just wanted to play music, and there was no question of their last moniker, but, obviously, this didn’t stop them from playing songs from their Viet Cong repertoire like “Bunker Buster,” ”Silhouettes,” “Continental Shelf,” or “March of Progress,” that some consider their best work. If their somewhat mellower post-punk style, was lacking METZ’s annihilating fury, many people next to me were their biggest fans, singing all the lyrics of the songs. Preoccupations seemed to have a strange and original approach to songs and textures, developing many grooves, shifting from one mood to another one with noisy guitars, atmospheric synths, throbbing electronics, and melodic vocal lines or unexpected vocal harmonies. Along with his angular bass lines, Flegel’s raw and graveling vocals blended over Mike Wallace’s complex drum patterns, Scott Munro’s fast-paced synth, and Daniel Christiansen’s plummeting guitar. There were often industrial transitions between the songs, and they seemed to focus on atmospheres rather than on melodies. “Select your Drone,” a track from their 2014 release “Cassette,” started as a heartfelt indie song that abruptly turned into the most powerful groove of the night, filled with ferocious distortion. “Continental Shelf” was probably the catchiest song of the night at the first listening, but, without being familiar with their material, I would say that their post-punk soundscapes had hypnotic rhythms, numerous tempo changes, and some claustrophobic moods. They only played one song (“Antidote”) from their last album “New Material,” but the music often matched Flegel’s description of the LP – an “ode [to] depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” However, looking at their smiles on stage, you would not have guessed that the lyrics were so dark and so paranoid.

METZ’s Setlist
Blind Youth Industrial Park
The Mirror
No Ceiling
Hail Taxi
The Swimmer
Sugar Pill
Framed by the Comet’s Tail
Get Off
A Boat to Drown In

Preoccupations’ setlist
Bunker Buster
Select your Drone
Continental Shelf
T Grass
March of Progress

PS: METZ’s trailer full of their gear and merch was stolen in Santa Clarita. This is beyond infuriating and I really hope they can catch the thieves.


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