Birthdays, London, February 2

And so 2013’s NME Awards Shows begin, with Toronto’s Metz not so much kick-starting the event as providing it with a brutal smack to the cerebellum. But they’re not doing all the fighting. Before the trio hit the stage, the night is softened up by The Wytches, four Brighton-dwellers who combine the urgency of Nirvana with a whole load of cosmic swirls. Singer Kristian Bell sings like a man who despises his own Adam’s apple, as he forces out sounds that sit well with the band’s psych-outs. They’re followed by Fair Ohs, who look like three men in the fading hours of a stag do and have the in-jokes and banter to match. “Fuck you, fuckface,” singer Eddy Frankel barks at a canoodling couple at the front, before adding, “Welcome to love and romance in Dalston.” Veering from Mclusky-style post-rock through hip-hop, jagged calypso and the dirge of early Liars, they’re a one-band tour of modern rock history. Perfect for those with a short attention span.

As Metz prepare, the audience braces itself. The band’s shows have developed a reputation for physicality, and tonight they deliver instantly with ‘Dirty Shirt’. With the stage up-lit in a warm orange glow, vocalist and guitarist Alex Edkins lurches around in a cauldron of noise as drummer Hayden Menzies flails his head and torso about, simultaneously wild and precise. Chris Slorach, on bass, is a solid beast of a man with a guitar sound to match. A deep-throated rumble pours from his guitar, the low-frequency thrum propelling bodies about the floor like human dodgem cars. During the intro to ‘Wasted’, Alex halts proceedings because the thrashing limbs in the moshpit are interfering with his stage set-up. “This is crazy up here, my shit’s all broken,” he says, before instructing the people closest to him to “please protect this stuff for me”.

‘Sad Pricks’ sees Slorach leap into the crowd to show them how to surf properly, before he finds his way back to the stage for Metz to end abruptly on ‘Rats’. It’s a blundering behemoth of a tune, a squall of grunge underpinned by that forceful bass hum. Ears ring. There’s no encore. Metz cut the night dead.

Hayley Avron