METZ rocked the proverbial casbah at the Middle East Upstairs so hard on Wednesday night that guitarist and singer Alex Edkins’ string broke about 30 seconds into the first song. “Rock and roll!” someone in the audience shouted, and it really was. Undeterred, the Toronto-based trio plugged right back into where they left off, drilling everyone’s eardrums into their heads with relentless noise.Coupled with the hoodies zipped over flannels, lone Nirvana t-shirt, and the feeling of community (“Turn your dick up!” Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis yelled to Pile’s singer and bassist at one point; “I’ve got a Russian belt buckle,” he responded), the entire night was reminiscent of METZ’s label Sub Pop’s early days as stalwarts of Seattle’s grunge scene.
Out of Northampton, Speedy Ortiz opened the night before Thanksgiving with squalling riffs like a proto-Dinosaur Jr. Dupuis’ affectless drawl — even her low-hanging brown hair shaded her face like J Mascis — walked the tenuous line between naïve and jaded as she sang songs like “Fun” and verse about that one summer when everyone made fun of her because she was on crutches. Pile then upped the ante with melodic, sludgy riffs that segued easily between delicately plucked chords and walls of feedback, contributing to a pretty contained mosh pit. In fact, it wasn’t until METZ’s second-to-last song that the slam-dancing really got going.
The headlining act, which was collectively several years older wiser than the previous bands, knew their way around a stage. Edkins and his bassist — and their powerhouse drummer, Hayden Menzies, who provided most of the stage’s illumination from within his kick drum — thrashed and howled their way through their eponymous full-length from October and a few cuts off their 7-inches.
Even though Edkins recently explained to the Phoenix that he thinks of Sub Pop as more diverse than their hardcore heritage, it’s impossible to ignore the influences of bands like Mudhoney on Edkins’ wailing guitar and bulging veins. By the end of their set, I was flecked with sweat and beer and stupidly grinning like the pogo-ing mob in back of me, the way it should be.