Live Concert Photography: METZ with Uniform and Bambara at Music Hall of Williamsburg 10/4/17
Over the past three years or so, I’ve written quite a bit about Toronto, ON-based JOVM mainstays METZ. And as you may recall, the Canadian punk trio exploded into the blogosphere with 2014’s self titled debut and 2015’s sophomore effort II, thanks in part to a sludgy, face-melting, power-chord based sound reminiscent of Bleach and In Utereo-era Nirvana, A Place to Bury Strangers, Japandroids and others. The trio’s highly-anticipated, third, full-length album Strange Peace to retain the was released earlier this month through Sub Pop Records, and the album, which was recorded with the legendary Steve Albini at Chicago’s Electrical Audio Studio live to tape, features home recordings and additional instrumentation added by their longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer Graham Walsh back in Toronto. And while the new album finds the band pushing their sound and songwriting in new directions, the material may be among the most personal and politically-charged writing the Canadian punk rock trio has ever released, presumably influenced by the urgency of life in the age of Donald Trump, Vladimr Putin and Kim Jung Un and seemingly constant threat of nuclear annihilation.
“The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty. They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears,” the band’s Alex Eakins explained in press notes. “They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.” And as a result, album single “Cellophane,” which manages to retain the pummeling forcefulness, sludgy power chords and anthemic hooks that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and this site, but there’s an underlying maturity and vulnerability within the song — the sort that comes from the recognition that the world is frequently an unforgivably brutal, unfair and frightening place, and although there are no easy answers, we can (and should) take comfort from others, and fight for them and with them as though we were fighting for ourselves. “Drained Lake,” the album’s second single was a jagged, post-post-punk anthem focused on the importance of being true to one’s self — at all costs. The album’s third single “Mess of Wires” was an urgent call to stand up for what you believe in — and holy shit, aren’t all of those songs and the rest of the album’s material absolutely necessary right now?
The Canadian trio returned to Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier this month to play an earnest and pummeling catalog spanning headlining set, featuring Uniform and Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays Bambara opening. Check out photos from the set below.
Comprised of friends and long-time collaborators Ben Greenberg (guitar, production), best known for stints as a member of The Men, his solo recording project Hubble, and for being a producer and engineer, who has worked on much of the Sacred Bones Records catalog; and Michael Berdan (vocals), best known for stints as a member of Drunkdriver and York Factory Complaint, the New York-based electro rock duo Uniform can trace their origins back to 2013 when the duo had reconnected and recognized that they were both in the same place musically. Desiring an intimate recording and live experience, the duo decided that it would be best to not expand and recruit new members, and as a result they eschew a rhythm section for generally abrasive productions featuring industrial clang and clatter, low end synths, Greenberg’s guitar work and Berdan’s vocals — primarily howling and screaming; in fact, with the release of the “Ghosthouse” 12 inch, the duo’s sound has become increasingly abrasive, at times including the sounds of war and/or violent conflict — shots, explosions, and the like. With the result being something akin to Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, evoking the seemingly endless horrors and uncertainties of our world while being influenced by Berdan’s struggles with depression and insomnia.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past four years of its over seven year history, you’d be familiar with Brooklyn-based, JOVM mainstay act Bambara. Comprised of founding and primary trio, twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and their childhood friend William Brookshire, the band can trace their origins to when it initially formed when the members were all living in Athens, GA. After relocating to Brooklyn and recording their debut effort DREAMVIOLENCE, the trio exploded into the national scene for a punishing shoegaze-inspired sound that compared favorably to the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, Weekend, and others. With the 2016 release of their sophomore effort Swarm, the band’s sound has begun to increasingly incorporate elements of stark, New York hardcore punk, thrash punk paired with Reid Bateh’s lyrics describing life in a stark, grimy, merciless city, full of neurotic, unhinged and deeply unstable characters desperately trying to survive with whatever dignity, decency and shred of their own sanity they may have remaining, and as a result, the album’s material — and in turn, their live set — a tense, bristling fury.