In the basement of Manchester bar Soup Kitchen a man scrambles on a floor thick with Dr Marten and Vans clad feet for a lost fluorescent green earplug. Canadian punk trio Metz are about to take the stage.
Three songs into Metz’s performance and an audience member positioned to the right of the stage fishes about in his trouser pockets. From a back pocket he produces a piece of crumpled tissue paper which he tears in two. He stuffs one half in each ear.
It is a bright and chilly evening outdoors. Inside, Soup Kitchen’s basement is warm with body heat and bathed in a soft reddish light. Behind the stage a backdrop depicting hands grasping at empty space has been installed. When Metz commence their set the backdrop becomes obscured by writhing bodies as audience members clamber to throw themselves from the stage.
Metz are presently touring with their third album Strange Peace, released on Subpop in 2017. In the record’s accompanying notes the album is described as a ‘distinct maturation’ for the band; more melodic and restrained than their previous albums Metz and II.
‘We’ve taken chances and stepped outside of our comfort zone,’ remarked lead singer and lead guitarist Alex Edkins in an album release interview with Stevie Lennox of Drowned in Sound. ‘On our other records the intention was to beat you over the head for thirty minutes and get the hell out’.
The anthemic 'Cellophane', one of Strange Peace’s highlights, sounds excellent this evening. Edkins and crowd members thrust their fists into the air in time to the explosive, punchy chorus. Bassist Chris Slorach careers nimbly across the stage furiously hacking at his guitar.
Slorach positions the instrument horizontally above his head and ably continues to hack furiously at it.
'Mess of Wires', the opening track on Strange Peace, is thunderous. Edkins snarls over Hayden Menzies’ propulsive drumming, his lips stretched around the microphone’s head.
Midway through their set the trio pause. "Take care of each other," Edkins remarks staring meaningfully at the crowd, his chest heaving. "Pick people up if you see them fall down."
During this interlude a lone crowd surfer is slowly passed over the heads of members of the crowd. "You’re supposed to do that to music, you silly bastard!" pronounces Slorach good-naturedly.
"Then play some fucking music," retorts a gig-goer.
Metz are game and obliging performers. They continue by playing 'Acetate', the lead single from their second album II. The whirring screech of Slorach’s bass guitar blasts forth from the speakers. The audience is briefly immobilised.
Metz conclude the evening with 'Wet Blanket', taken from their eponymous debut. Edkins leaps from the stage, offering himself to the crowd. Clawed hands grasp greedily for his sweat drenched body. He is deposited back on stage in time for the song’s conclusion.
The wearied but buoyant members of Metz depart the stage. A satisfied crowd ambles up the stairs leading out of Soup Kitchen’s basement. Outside, audience members cool off and enthusiastically test each other’s post-concert hearing capabilities beneath a purple tinged sky.