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Cig-throwing, beer-spraying rock on a Rickshaw Saturday night

Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings.

Review – Cloud Nothings and Metz at the Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, July 5 2014

– review by Thalia Stopa

It was a melting pot of melting faces at the Rickshaw on Saturday night. The crowd was already sizeable by the time the first band took the stage, and the people kept arriving in waves. By the show’s mid-point, the dance floor had spilled onto the theatre stairs, and most of the balcony seating was still occupied.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen the Rickshaw so full. On a visit to Vancouver last year, Torontonian noise-rock band METZ nearly filled the considerably smaller Biltmore Cabaret, but I was unprepared for the awesome turnout this time around. Probably the double-headlining bill with Cloud Nothings was partially accountable for their ability to fill such a large capacity venue.

Openers The Wytches of Peterborough, England started the w[y]tching hour early, around 9:30 p.m. The three young men could have been concealing warts or other questionable hideousness beneath their varying lengths of face-obscuring hair, which they thrashed incessantly. From behind his long dark locks, singer/guitarist Kristian Bell unleashed a nasal snarl that was a handful of Billy Corgan and a pinch of Jack White. The similarities didn’t end there. The Wytches’ sound is a concoction of the Smashing Pumpkins’ guitar-riffing rock, White Stripes’ bluesy garage rawness, psychedelia and head-banging metal. Bell, along with bassist Daniel Rumsey and drummer Gianni Honey conjured up their restless youthful energy for songs off of their upcoming first full-length album, Annabel Dream Reader.

Video – The Wytches, “Wire Frame Mattress”:

METZ vocalist and guitarist Alex Edkins could probably out-thrash and rock harder than most teenage punks half his age. The band frontman head-banged, shook, and danced as if afflicted with a violent agitation only cured through sheer exhaustion. Edkins may have pushed his own physical barriers, but he had genuine compassion and care for the supportive audience. He checked in and offered encouragement to dance, not mosh, a few times between songs.

Exuding the maturity of an older and wiser brother, he paused to offer advice on pit safety and etiquette. The singer was audibly panting from the effort he put into the first three songs, but threw himself right back into the music with the same high level of energy and perseverance for “Get Off” and “Wasted” (off of METZ’s one self-titled 2012 LP). If his athleticism and obvious efforts on stage were any indication, it would be a frightening scene to see that same effort and endurance channeled into a fight. “You’re throwing smokes? This is way cooler than cans…keep it up!” The remark, made mid-way through METZ’s set, led me to believe that I wasn’t the only attendee who had no doubts about his capabilities to beat the shit out of someone, if warranted.

Video – Metz, “Wasted”:

The final band of the night was Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings. More melodic and listenable than Metz or The Wytches, nonetheless, nothing about the noisy punk offerings off their latest, Here and Nowhere Else, was immediately or discernibly special. Singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi, bassist TJ Duke and drummer Jayson Gerycz were less dynamic or original than the bands leading up to them.

These guys knew how to play, and played fast as hell, but what energy the musicians did have seemed confined to their arms – at times Baldi’s strumming hand was a literal blur on his guitar. The audience’s energy, on the other hand, was still increasing. The mostly male crowd nearest the stage were either unaware or impartial to the on-stage subtleties. By the time Cloud Nothings were a few songs into their set (including “Now Hear In” and “Giving Into Seeing” off of this spring’s sophomore LP release) the energy up front had reached its peak and pushed past to rowdy, jock-ish belligerency. Hit by the beer-spray shrapnel of one audience member’s projectile, I reached my own threshold and made my exit.

Video – Cloud Nothings, “I’m Not Part of Me”:

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