The bar was lit with cheap fluorescence at 529 in East Atlanta Village where IMPRINT was present for a Sunday night punk show headlined by Toronto trio, Metz, and featuring sets from Dead Now and Illegal Drugs. A low-lit dirty bar is what I personally prefer to have close by at a show like this. A quaint stage, no barrier, nothing fancy. The stage room was dark, smoky, full of heavy music enthusiasts. A vending machine stood in the back that dispensed packs of cigarettes as well as a few candy bar selections and packages of peanuts.
The show began with Illegal Drugs, a band of Atlanta natives who released a self-titled debut album in 2016. Bassist Tom O’Neil was jumpsuit and mustache-clad while guitarist and vocalist John Robinson and Drummer Shane Patrick sweated through their shirts. These guys have a mechanic’s aesthetic as if they’ve been working over engines all day. And like a smooth-running machine, Illegal Drugs’ performance was equally fine-tuned, dishing out post-punk jams with subtle influences from grunge and new wave.
Next was Dead Now, a band consisting of ex-Torche member Andrew Elstner and the members of Atlanta’s sludge metal duo, Day Old Man. Dead Now was a surprising, yet fitting addition to a show headlined by a band like Metz. The Atlanta-based band released their debut self-titled EP through Brutal Panda Records last month, which is comprised of five fiery stoner rock songs complete with plenty of fuzz and spectral vocals. For the show, Bobby Theburge set up his drums at the front of the stage, making the three of them aligned with each other. His pained facial expressions complimented the glisten of the sparkly red body of Elstner’s guitar. Derek Shulz’s bass work was as fuzzy as his mustache and mutton chops. Dead Now seem to aim at taking the metal stylings of Black Sabbath and adding more weight and volume. Their performance of “Powershapes”, a growing fan favorite with its ruthlessly chugging main riff, left me wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Before playing their last song, Elstner turned to the band and said into the mic, “Hey Bobby, hey Derek, I love you guys.” This is a prog metal stoner rock at its best.
And at last was the brutal performance by Metz. The Canadian three-man post-punk outfit consisting of guitarist and vocalist Alex Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies, released their third album last year, titled Strange Peace, through Sub Pop Records. Metz’s style of punk is sludgy and relentless, a little enclosing, a little reminiscent of a claustrophobic fit. Their songs are driven by pummeling repetition, which gives off the feeling of a stampede.
Metz have an aggressive stage presence. They began by playing “Mess of Wires”, the opening track to Strange Peace, and a small mosh pit boiled up in the crowd. Slorach used so much of his body when headbanging that his feet would occasionally lift off the stage floor. Menzies beat his drums with such force, it was like watching a blacksmith hammer steel on an anvil. Edkins could be seen swaying with his mouth slightly open during a prolonged jam in the middle of “Wet Blanket”. He seems to let himself lose control. At times, his shouts couldn’t reach the microphone because he was too compelled to shake his head. When he would talk to the crowd between songs, his words would slide out of his mouth in reckless moans.
During the show, the lights went out and the band stopped playing for a moment. Benny, the light operator, explained through his microphone that the volume of their music was so loud that it was causing the lightboard to vibrate and malfunction and Edkins responded by saying, “We love you, Benny.” There is love that comes from this kind of damage, as well as the damage that informs bands like Metz to write songs like “Wasted” and “Spit You Out”. Benny’s malfunctioning lighting control console was a clear indicator of Metz’s awesome and ferocious set.
Listen to Illegal Drugs
Listen to Dead Now
Listen to Metz
Metz will be playing at The Fest in Gainsville, Florida on October 27th. Get tickets here.
Andrew Spiess's work has appeared in Lingerpost, Permafrost, Prairie Margins, The Miscreant, Gravel, The Hamilton Stone Review, Punch Drunk Press, and Birds Piled Loosely. He received a Louise C. Cooper Book Award from Bowling Green State University, where he studied, and a poem of his has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He works and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter: @andrewspiesss.