(photos: JP Daniels)
(courtesy to Keys and Chords magazine)
Each generation has its own music. However, this always comes along with criticism from the previous generation, who mostly believes that new music is hopeless and decayed. But this is no news; it goes back to the 18th century. Joseph Fux, the Austrian baroque theorist, was referring to the new waves of composers as having an “unrestrained insanity of their writing to normal standards”. And this was in 1725, right before Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. I find this even more appealing when it comes to revivals. Especially on the contemporary scene, when one might think revivals appear when there is nothing more to be said in music. Still, the alternative scene of the 90s, which was my music, carries on inspiring bands to keep that particular spirit alive, to produce good live shows and take grunge music to new degrees of enthusiasm.
MEZT and Cheatahs are such bands. They performed in the nice and cozy Rotonde Hall of Botanique on 2 November.
Cheatahs are based in London but the bands members are from all over the world: James Wignall (guitar, vocals) is English, Dean (bass, vocals) is American, Marc Raue (drums) is German and Nathan Hewitt (vocals, guitar) was raised in Canada. If you wonder what “Cheatahs” means, don’t do it for too long, it’s just a made up name. Much of their appearance and sound respect the general lines of the 90s alternative style: wearing plaid patterned shirts, jeans and colored sneakers or boots and playing a college rock with a fine balance between rhythm and melody. But when you least expect it, the energy boost into moments of roughness, carefully constructed with steady rhythm section and inventive guitars. I enjoyed in particular the synthesizer-like effects produced by the guitar on Flake song.
METZ are a noise punk rock band from Toronto, Canada. Although they formed in 2007 their first eponymous debut album was released only in 2012, at the well known Seattle label, Sub Pop.
There are many names which may come into one’s mind when listening to METZ: Nirvana, the Melvins, The Jesus Lizard. But at the same time they are referred to by the press as best new music. This might be due to their mix of punk with noise with grunge, having both the flavour of the 90s and the precision and loudness of metal band. Their album is well-produced, bursting out from the stereos, but nothing compares with their power on stage. Alex Edkins is nothing but kind to his voice, taking it to extremes with no mercy. Chris Slorach hits the bass like a guitar and Hayden Menzies’ drums are forceful. The heavy-grunge riffs are everywhere in the room which might easily seem too small for such sound.
Both bands have something in common: on the albums there is a sound with easy-to-follow traces of melody, nicely integrated into stronger harmonies. Live, they take their performance even more seriously. You can feel the joy of playing together, being more sharpen up (Cheatahs) or louder (METZ), refusing to conform to technical restrictions of the recording process and refusing just to be another group successful in replicating the album sound. And this is what made it great about the 90s alternative scene: bands with so many roots and influences, from Beatles to Black Sabbath or The Ramones, are difficult to be captured on production. They are meant to be heard on stage.