As I was standing among the throng of fans that filled the Rumba Café last week, I realized that twenty years ago, Sum 41 had it all wrong.
In 2001, the Canadian pop punk group thought they were being clever with the title of their debut album. Despite mixed reviews, it went on to be certified platinum and put the band squarely on the musical map.
But for those in search of the rawest of edges, the one dripping in perspiration and blood, surrounded by a tense electricity that will cause a cranial implosion without so much as a warning, one must dive deep into the burgeoning music scene of the 1970s. Peeling back layers of wanton seediness, illicit drugs and the cacophonous, widely disparate bands that inhabited the Lower East side of Manhattan, you will find enlightenment.
This was truly the era of “All killer no filler”… Sum 41’s debut album title notwithstanding. From glam rock to punk rock, art rock to singer-songwriters, it was all on display, laid bare without a care for what the non-denizens of the scene thought of them.
Hyperbole? Perhaps. Superficial? Most assuredly not. From the halcyon days of yore, there has emerged a group that embraces the wild excess epitomized by the New York Dolls, Dead Boys, Sex Pistols, et al. The icing on the proverbial cake is that they call Columbus, Ohio home.
MethMatics combine the punchy hooks, visually stunning and rocket propelled tempo of the bands mentioned above, and many more. While their influences run as deep as the river is wide, they have cultivated a sound that is all their own.
Comprised of Crystal Price (vocals), Byron Weaver (bass), Joey Yates (rhythm guitar), Billy Spitfire (lead guitar) and Chris Cox (drums), they harness the raw power of an earlier era without sounding dated.
With local rockers The Whiteouts opening the festivities that evening, MethMatics were sandwiched between The Tufted Puffins from Cleveland and Columbus’ very own Betty Machete & the Angry Cougars for a night of what would surely be high-octane rock and roll.
The band kicked off their set with Sleep Intro, a snappy 1950s vibe oozing from the stage. Midway through the number, Crystal sauntered from backstage, wearing a faux fur coat, adorned in a pinkish colored dress, white lace gloves, knee-high socks and sunglasses. For the uninitiated, the shock to their senses was immediate.
Without missing a beat, the band transitioned right into Falling Apart. The pace and flamboyance of the tune can be directly traced back to the New York Dolls, as it carried a distinct glam vibe to it. This morphed into the fast pace of I’m A Good Boy, with the guys jumping around on stage to the speedy, pop undertones that were reminiscent of Ramones.
Vacation began with very little hesitation from the end of the last song, with Weaver driving the low-end bass lines of the Stooges-infused groove. With the crowd bopping and dancing, Spitfire darted in and out of a semi-solo at the bridge of the number.
We were able to catch our collective breath before the next song, as Crystal announced to the audience “Here’s a new one…” The fast pace to Recreational Outrage had the desired effect, as many began dancing once again. Besides Crystal prancing around the stage, the comical highlight of the tune happened during the breakdown when Yates leaned over and began licking Weaver’s ear, the former with a large smile on his face as the tension began to build back up.
Yates began the next song, Let Me Let You Down from within the crowd after jumping off the stage. With a distinct 1970s vibe spewing forth, the band played it with a high amount of energy that accentuated their musicianship.
I Don’t Care About You was a crowd participation song from the get-go, with the call and response of Crystal flipping off the crowd being returned en masse. Before the next tune, Crystal sang an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday” to a member of the audience named Larry.
Shit Called Love carried a slower pace, with Crystal in the crowd as he sang through the first verse. His vocals had an almost King Missile feel to them, albeit much more emotive. The band paused ever so briefly before launching into You Bring Me Down, with the tempo much higher than the previous song.
Recalling images of SoCal surf punk, Russian Bride was fast and laced with very good harmonies. The pace remained elevated as the strains of Have A Nice Day punched through the intimate venue with a driving groove.
They closed out their set with Crystal proclaiming “This is an oldie, but a goodie…” The driving rock-heavy groove of Pills circled back around to encompass a very Stooges-like vibe. Yates used a Miller High Life beer bottle as a slide for his axe, much to the delight of the crowd. Not to be outdone, Spitfire tossed his guitar pick and proceeded to use a harmonica for a slide on his guitar. The crowd roared their approval at these sights, too. And just like that, their 30-minute set was over.
For those yearning for an element of danger and
unpredictability in the music they experience live, MethMatics channel all that
made the original “All killer no filler” era so fresh and unique.
They do not sound dated, rehashing what’s been played before. Instead, they
weave their influences throughout the band’s sound to achieve a modern take on
what made 1970s punk rock so memorable. They never fail to deliver to goods,
leaving the audience satiated at the conclusion of their shows.
- Sleep Intro
- Falling Apart
- I’m A Good Boy
- Recreational Outrage
- Let Me Let You Down
- Don’t Care About You
- Shit Called Love
- You Bring Me Down
- Russian Bride
- Have A Nice Day