Review: Messer (DE) & Splinter(AT) @ Rhiz, Vienna

Quite solid yet enchanting indie rock opened up this evening at the rhiz: SPLINTER, consisting of members of ROBOTRA and the defunct DESTROY, MUNICH. An all-star-band of sorts, one could say. They presented a respectable repertory of soft 90s-style guitar rock, certainly with hints of the bands named above, but here they might have orientated – just a mere assumption – toward the sound of bands like TEENAGE FANCLUB or similar groups. While retaining a melancholic atmosphere, this band did not shoegaze too much, though – at least in regard to their sound.

Hendrik Otremba’s lyrics are often based on metaphors of spiders and birds, dust and blank shells, just as dark and moody as the instruments provide the basis in fascinating interplay to his bright shouting voice, operating seemingly close to raucousness. Pogo McCartney’s twisted bass lines are fundamental in MESSER’s music, while the guitar adds even more drama by accentuating quieter parts with washes of surfy goodness and a textured mix of chords and lead parts in louder sections. The unmistakable sound this group has developed yet leaves still room to play both the perfect 80s-style post-punk stomper (“Platzpatronen”) as well as “Neonlicht”, a remarkably “ambient” pop song.

While great on record, live, this group is at least as good in creating this atmosphere live. Compared to last year’s performance, the psychedelic visuals used this year added quite a lot to that. Musically, their fifth man Manuel Chittka played an additional drum/percussion-kit, just as on the new record (“Die Unsichtbaren”). The venue was packed and people were steaming towards the end of MESSER’s set. As usual, there was not a lot of bodies-in-motion besides rhythmic nodding though, so one might wonder how that happened. Maybe it was just the radiation emitted by a band that could be riding on top of their career.

This Charming Man Records has announced to release a four-band split 12’’ for Record Store Day featuring MESSER, SEX JAMS, NIGHT SHIRTS & KARIES.

Text: Maurizio Massaro