Canadian four-piece Metric graced Billboard’s sticky carpet floors last Friday before they headed out to rainy Byron Bay for this year’s wet and wild Splendour In The Grass.
With their fifth studio album Synthetica
in tow, the diverse audience ranging from 20-something girls with asymmetrical haircuts to mum and dad types who were lucky enough to get a babysitter for the night tells you a bit about the cross-generational appeal of the Metric sound. Because after 14 years, Metric are still pulling the same strings that earned them the reputation of being one of the best known indie exports out of Canada since Tegan and Sara.
Without so much as a hello, frontwoman Emily Haines launched straight into the setlist with ‘Artificial Nocturne’, also the first song from Synthetica
. The climbing guitar hooks accompanied Haines’s signature sexy, breathy voice, giving way later to guitarist Jimmy Shaw’s early onset two-minute guitar solo. But hey, is it ever too early in the night for a screeching solo? We think not.
Working somewhat systematically through the new record without so much as a pause, the band rolled into ‘Youth Without Youth’ and ‘Speed The Collapse’ with Haines flitting between her mic, synth machine and trusty tambourine and Shaw continuing with his rousing riffs.
They reached the fifth song of the night, ‘Dreams So Real’, and we still hadn’t heard a peep from the band. By now, lack of banter and track-by-track performance was starting to give the impression that these guys are all business and no pleasure. The audience, however, didn’t seem to mind that much. The energy spraying off the stage was so infectious that there was no impression Metric was being a tad stand-offish. Maybe it’s just a Canadian thing.
The band eventually tossed in some well-known oldies throughout the setlist with ‘Help I’m Alive‘ and later on ‘Dead Disco’,
starting a mini-mosh (complete with fist pumps) in front of the stage. While the band dutifully returned to the album they’re promoting every two songs or so, what quickly became clear was how little the band has changed since they’ve been around. All the songs exuded that distinctive Metric rock energy, with some subtle of sex appeal to boot courtesy of Haines’s breathy vocals.
Towards the end of the night, the audience could be forgiven for thinking Metric is all about Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw. They were by far the most dominant members of the otherwise solid group, the ones with the most swagger. Haines was synth and tambourine-bashing like there’s no tomorrow and Shaw seemed to be shredding his guitar every chance he got.
It was only after playing 13 songs back-to-back that the band decided to skip backstage for a break (again, wordlessly), returning with ‘Monster Hospital’ before ending with an intimate acoustic rendition of ‘Gimme Sympathy’. Before the final song started and Haines and Shaw were left with a lone guitar, Haines finally treated the audience with some chitchat saying, “I guess I’m saying hello and goodbye”.
Almost as an explanation or an apology for the lack of banter, she described “feeling like an alien” in a city far away from home and being jealous of her fans being able to sleep in their own bed (cue yells of generous offers to share beds). The chat was short, but it was a great lead in to the lullaby-like final song, made even sweeter when bassist Joshua Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key rejoined the team for a campfire singalong with the audience.