Toronto’s noise punk mavens METZ landed at the Empty Bottle in Chicago on the weekend of Lollapalooza, sharing a bill that was probably 10x as aggressive as whatever the corporate heirs of the Perry Farrell legacy dreamed up. A rehabilitated Eminem (QRO photos at a festival)? Coldplay (QRO photos at a festival)? Somebody throw the baby out with the bathwater, please, and put that festival out of its misery. The METZ // Anatomy of Habit // Iceage line up catered more to the Lollapalooza fence-jumping crowd, which is a nice break from the weekend warrior & 20th Anniversary T-Shirt vibe that percolated through the city of Chicago like hot, musty Krispy Kreme flavored sweat.
The three-piece METZ cut through a jagged, high speed set. Vocals came fast & loose, a Pussy Galore-inspired maelstrom of rumbling bass lines, rapid-fire percussion, and angular fretwork. Not a whole lot of information online for these guys, and the “METZtheband.com” domain has since been swallowed up by the angry gods of Unpaid Service Fees. But they’ve been kicking around since 2009, they’re well loved in their native Toronto, and they can rock the fucking paint off the broad side of a barn.
Anatomy of Habit manned the middle of the bill. A kind of goth/noise ensemble with a striking frontman/vocalist that absolutely owned the stage in a sort of ‘tall bald guy from Midnight Oil’ way [note: is now an Australian MP – QRO Musicians as Politicians]. Special shout out to the guitarist of AOH, who is also the cream of the Empty Bottle’s crop of sound techs. Nice to see the longhaired, bespectacled audio geek shed the soundboard in favor of some rock god guitar stylings for a change. It’s like seeing an ‘everyman’ jump up on stage and rock out, except not everyman knows how to handle the dials like a boss.
The big draw of the night was the young, young, young Danish hardcore post-punk ensemble Iceage, who have gotten a bit of buzz based on the usual mix of Bitchspork-ing, mysterious Vimeo-ing, and satisfactory tunes. It’s always slightly awkward when the headliner is the youngest band on the bill. There is a default pecking order of seniority when it comes to fashioning bills – but all that gets thrown out the window at the slightest hint of buzz. To be honest, either two of the opening acts, METZ or Anatomy of Habit, would have handled the headlining spot better. But Iceage sold the tickets, so Iceage headlines.
Fair enough. Based on the wild, bloodied photos of their NYC gig, the crowd was perhaps expecting more than a handful of scared looking Danish teens, for the most part staring down at their strings and looking every bit the inexperienced punk babies. The atmosphere was encouraging & expectant; a small crowd at the foot of the stage tried to will the set, via some slightly forced moshing, to a higher level than the set was destined to attain. Midwesterners love their punk rock and are ready to mosh at the drop of the hat – but they’re less susceptible to that ‘big city’ hype. No one was losing his or her shit over a Bitchspork shout out, and the night ended without injury.
All photos courtesy of the indomitable Robert Loerzel. His original post for this show can be found here (http://www.undergroundbee.com/2011/08/09/iceage-metz-and-anatomy-of-habit/) — check out the Underground Bee for more of his excellent coverage of the Chicago music scene.