Music Park: Metric @ Verizon Center — 7/6/15


Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw perform “The Shade” acoustically for the Verge Music Lab at the Music Mansion: SiriusXM Canada on June 2, 2015.

Drummer Joules Scott-Key pounded out those familiar opening notes and vocalist Emily Haines bounded onto stage to open the set with “Stadium Love.”

And so Metric kicked off their performance at the Verizon Center Monday night, opening for Imagine Dragons in that band’s Smoke + Mirrors Tour, devoting a third of their set to their popular fourth album Fantasies.

After “Stadium Love” was appropriately performed for the enthusiastic stadium attendees, Metric introduced new track “Too Bad, So Sad,” a kinetic lament of being stuck in a bad place belied by its cheering chorus. It rings a bit of a traditional Metric song blended with Blur’s “Song 2.”

“Too Bad, So Sad” was the first of three new songs from the forthcoming album Pagans in Vegas, scheduled for release Sept. 18. Those new songs were undoubtedly the highlight of the show for longtime admirers of the Canadian quartet.

The biggest number for Metric in the concert was “Cascades,” which the Toronto new wavers have described as the heart of the upcoming album. “Cascades” is a wholly electronic affair with synths coating Emily’s sweet but sassy vocals to powerful effect — and it’s so deliriously good that it was an instant new favorite for me and also for the thousands gathered early to see them Monday.

The song, about “cascading waves of emotion,” is a welcome tidal wave that involves Emily, guitarist Jimmy Shaw and bassist Joshua Winstead trading off on three synthesizers. There are guitar and bass parts as well, and when Emily isn’t behind her synthesizer, she’s at the front of the stage in a purple cape billowing above a wind machine.

The arrangement, although simple, is extraordinarily memorable.

Give “Cascades” a listen on Soundcloud:

Metric end the show on the pleasant first single from Pagans in Vegas, “The Shade,” an earnestly romantic song about “wanting it all,” as contrary as that might sound. (Isn’t Metric lyrically a lot about contradictions?) The song also involves some lovely synth sounds, but you can watch an acoustic performance of it from last month at the top of this post.

Emily took a break during “The Shade” to say she honestly didn’t want anything more than she already has, and that she and her bandmates were pleased with their music career over the past 15 years.

“Whenever I think of DC, I think of the 9:30 Club,” Emily added. “It’s the best place to play, and everyone there is so friendly. DC is a home away from home for us, partly because Josh has relatives here.”

The new tracks, particularly “Cascades,” definitely speak to an early period Depeche Mode or a traditional new wave band adapting Underworld — two influences Metric cited in the making of the new album. In addition to the new songs, Metric also performed “Help, I’m Alive” and “Gold Guns Girls” from Fantasties as well as “Synthetica” and “Breathing Underwater” from their last album, the conceptual Synthetica. The band made the set an all-too-short nine songs with the addition of “Black Sheep,” perhaps best known for its inclusion in the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack.

Metric were in terrific form all around, and Emily sounded superb and looked fantastic. They continue their tour with Imagine Dragons tonight in Charlotte, NC, and then travel across the United States with them until Boise, Idaho, on August 1. You will so definitely want to see Metric, but like me, you may leave a little frustrated that you didn’t get more of them!

Thankfully, Metric are likely to be back around after a fall European tour to promote their new album in North America, and they already revealed plans for a seventh studio album to be released as soon as 2016.

So apparently we can look forward to successively more and more Metric in the next couple of years! Cascades, indeed.

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