An explosion happened in downtown Toronto on Saturday night. Not a bomb, not a natural disaster of any kind, but local band METZ’s show at Lee’s Palace at midnight for NXNE. As soon as lead vocalist Alex Edkins opened his mouth, the place went wild.

METZ is a noise pop/hardcore punk band signed to Sup Pop records and since their inception in 2008, they have been steadily growing their fan base both locally in the Toronto area and abroad. Their self-titled 2012 debut release was shortlisted for the 2013 Polaris Prize.

On Saturday, I got to see what all the fuss is about firsthand. The show was revved up in every possible way. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a mosh pit as crazy as the one at this show. The entire ground level was in a flurry. People were running up on stage and diving into the crowd, often without checking to make sure there were hands to catch them first (a few were dropped, and yes, it looked rather painful).

METZ NXNE 2

An amp almost tipped over into the crowd when someone dove off it. Edkins brought an air of danger to the stage. A couple of times he knocked the microphone off the stand while playing wildly. Fans would rush up and replace it for him and then stage dive. He stood on the bass drum towards the end of the set (I can hear a collective of drummers gasping) for a good minute or two, and I swear a couple of times I thought he was so into the music that he was going to smash his guitar to pieces.

The intensity with which he sang and played was definitely infectious. Bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies complete the band and play with as much vigor as Edkins. Menzies is reminiscent of a tattooed Animal from the Muppets with his long hair and seemingly on-the-brink-of-losing-control style. Far from it though. The band is tight and obviously well rehearsed. And they have a lot of loyal and enthusiastic fans. The place was jumpin’.

It’s comforting to know that a three-piece rock band can make great music without feeling the need to bring in additional members. There’s something special about their raw talent that I really appreciate. Plus, it’s always a blast to go to a mega energetic show and jump around.

The band is touring western Canada, the US and the UK for the rest of the summer but here’s a video to warm you up until you can catch a live show.

Photos by Chris Zacchiam see the whole album on our Facebook Page

Artsy Chicks

What is this and where is it going? You may ask yourself those very questions listening to local Montreal band The Artsy Chicks. The truth is you’ll never know and that’s just fantastic. For now, let’s describe their music as experimental, although that will change from one album to the next according to the band’s keyboardist Zach Scholes.

Scholes met fellow bandmates Dominic Caterina (guitar), Juan Cruz Fernandez (guitar/vocals), Mario Lombardi (bass, tenor saxophone) and Corey Tardiff (drums) while studying music at Vanier College and formed The Artsy Chicks exactly one year ago, in the spring of 2013. They had already released a full-length album, Kwoto Zeetrus, by November. The album is a rambling exploration of noise, post-rock, a good measure of jazz and a hint of surf rock. It showcases the band’s impeccable balance between chaos and structure. It’s some good noise, that’s for sure.

The band have another record coming out this summer and Scholes explained that this time, their sound will be much more surf rock oriented.

“One of the reasons we all got together is we wanted to be in a project that does whatever it wants to do. We just like to try and do different things and do our best. All of us really enjoy music, we all study different things and continue to study so we wanted an outlet for that,” he said. “We’re already working on the next two records and they’re going to be totally different. We’re all musicians and we’re all composers, we all do different things that stimulate us musically.”

Nowadays, it’s common to see so many different influences coming together in a band’s sound. The Artsy Chicks have a bit of a more novel approach in that they go through phases with their composition, much like many listeners, myself included, go through phases with music. You might be really into a certain genre for a little while and eventually you start feeling something else.

The one thing the band conscientiously strives for when it comes to their sound is honesty, not just with listeners but also among themselves.

“That’s the feeling that I like and that’s the feeling that we’re trying to go for. [Bands who try to sound a certain way], there’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t work for us and the way we think about it,” Scholes said. “We worked really hard to get into a position where you can tell someone flat-out ‘this isn’t working’. That person can tell you to fuck off if they want to. There’s a nice dynamic there. I think it makes for better music.”

The band are taking full advantage of their current dynamic and steady surge of material and are trying to get it all out while it’s there. This explains how they’re managing to work on two albums simultaneously after having released one just six months ago. Not to mention all the shows they’ve been playing in Montreal and the Canadian tour they’ll embark on mid-June (they have an Indiegogo campaign on right now to help fund the tour).

They’ve played with plenty of prominent local bands including Atsuko Chiba, Archery Guild and Hellenica and participated in the fourth edition of monthly series The Secret Museum of Sound and Nature.

“There are so many great bands,” Scholes said. “We really like playing with Hellenica, it just seems to fit so well with what we’re doing now. It’s amazing to see him live cause he’s one guy with a guitar. It’s quite a mind-trip.”

He said The Artsy Chicks will be playing with Hellenica again for their album launch July 6 at La Vitrola (details to come).

Scholes also had nice things to say about another Montreal band, Feefawfum, who will be performing with them tonight.

“They’re amazing. It’s going to be really out there,” he said. “The guys in the band are phenomenal musicians and we’re really excited to be playing with them.”

The Artsy Chicks perform tonight, May 11 at Piccolo Rialto with Feefawfum and Palm Trees. Doors open at 8 p.m., $5.

Photo by Justine Israel courtesy of The Artsy Chicks.

*Correction: This post originally stated The Artsy Chicks’ sophomore album launch would take place June 6 instead of July 6. Apologies for the error.