You could attribute the appeal of Metric solely to Emily Haines, the Toronto band’s fetching lead vocalist, but that would be selling Metric a little short. Haines is the group’s focal point and, no doubt, a prime reason that more than half of the 500-plus fans at the Beaumont Club on Wednesday were males, many of them seemingly engaged in something more than just Metric’s jackhammer dance-rock riffs.
Nine of the first 11 songs were from that album. It’s only three months old, but new tracks meshed well enough with the older tracks that the crowd on the floor sustained the same bright, manic vibe all night: There was plenty of dancing going on up front; lots of head-bobbing and shoulder-pumping elsewhere; and plenty of hearty cheers and applause after each song.
Haines is the sort of gang leader who can stir a room without trying. Or without appearing to try. She seems to be completely comfortable in her own skin, like someone who dances and moves in front of 500 people just as she would alone in a room, with no one watching.
Her choreography is inspired by her band’s music, which is as engaging as it is primitive. Metric forges hard rock, indie rock new wave, punk, electronica and pop music into melodic, steel-girded dance anthems. Some are brighter and poppy-er than others; some are darker and heavier than others.
It evokes a lot of comparisons and similarities, some strong, some slight: to Garbage, Elastica, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, No Doubt, even Girls Against Boys. James Shaw’s wild-eyed guitar solo at the end of “Gold Guns Girls” sounded a lot like Lindsey Buckingham’s at the end of Fleetwood Mac’s “I’m So Afraid.”
The Beaumont has sounded better than it did Wednesday, but it has also sounded worse. At times it was hard to hear Haines’ voice within the band’s brash, heavy sound; other times she came through loud and clear. A few more bodies in the place might have helped.
The mood picked up in the second half of the show, when the band uncorked older tunes like “Dead Disco” and three of the six tracks it played from the “Fantasies” album: “Sick Muse,” “Stadium Love” and “Gold Guns Girls.”
For the closer, Shaw and Haines took the stage and serenaded the crowd with an acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy,” also from “Fantasies.” Many in the audience sang along, as if by a campfire, to nearly every word: “Who would you rather be? The Beatles or the Stones?” It was a refreshing choice — a moment of warmth at the end of a raucous parade. And even without a keyboard to play or a riff to dance to, Haines, winded and sweaty, still had the room under her control.
Setlist: Artificial Nocturne; Youth Without Youth; Speed the Collapse; Dreams So Real; Lost Kitten; Empty; Help, I’m Alive; Synthetica; Clone; Breathing Underwater; Sick Muse; Dead Disco; Stadium Love. Encore: Monster Hospital; Gold Guns Girls; Gimme Sympathy
| Timothy Finn, The Star