This is not hyperbole; this is how it went down: a monster lineup of Toronto’s Metz, Ohio’s Cloud Nothings, and UK band The Wytches endorsed last Monday as one of the best internationally punk-fueled evenings this month in San Francisco–Metz listed first to denote that though Cloud Nothings were headliners, Metz were absolutely deserving of the title too. But bestowing that honor is not meant to detract from the massive energy all the bands brought, as together, the trio of mean three-pieces wreaked rock havoc at the crowded Great American Music Hall. Picture: pedal boards, tagged with fresh and ample sweat; this photographer, forced out from the front row as the frenzied pit-of-mosh got frenzier; and brutally headbanging rock behemoths, rhythmically flailing themselves around on stage. It was a perfect storm of stamina and stuff-to-say, and it drove the whole house’s patrons to dance the hell out of themselves, straight into a state of catharsis.
Despite the unruly ruckus, our men manning the stage weren’t short on manners. After a hair-flailing set from The Wytches, Metz frontman Alex Edkins reminded everyone to have fun in a mindful way–that is, don’t go elbowing the guy next to you in the heat of the moment just because a song sounds like punk heaven to you. At least, that was my interpretation of Edkins’ good will; it showed a band with an intense sound can still espouse camaraderie–which is overall a punk ethos in some parts of the country. Metz played songs from their 2012 self-titled, emoting with a rawness everything they seemed to hold inside themselves, and then turning that rage up another notch. They went the extra mile, playing the way you hope all bands who you’ve listened to and invested in do, and as a third-time viewer of their shows, I can say their remarkable outpouring on this occasion was consistent, as the other two shows I had the pleasure of attending were just as high energy. I caught the band once last May at the Bottom of the Hill where I was lucky to sit down to interview the guys on behalf of KALX. I caught them again at FYFFest 2013 where I photographed them among other performers for The B-Side. Expectations high for the latest night, Metz still delivered. And yes, Chris Slorach’s awesome bass face made many an appearance.
Not as awesome, however, was that Cloud Nothings had to follow up Metz’s energetic stage presence. Cloud Nothings were tough players in their own way, and the crowd was visibly feeling the their tunes; in fact, some of the most energetic fist pumps and fan responses happened at the head of the stage as Cloud Nothings careened into the hooky, anthemic cuts from their latest record, this year’s Here and Nowhere else. But after witnessing the hardworking and restless enthusiasm of their supporting band, it was hard not to want the same rowdy showmanship from the headlining act.
Nonetheless, asking a band known for their ability to make dynamic and compelling records to create the same physical spectacle as a wholly different band is just nickpicking about performance quality. These bands really did none-the-wrong: great tunes, enthusiastic fans, and even a little West Coast love–Bassist TJ Duke of the Nothings was wearing an Amoeba shirt he’d scored from his band’s free show at the record store earlier that day. Overall, Monday’s show was performance at its finest; you could not have asked for a more memorable night.