When Emily Haines of Metric sang at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Friday, she sang with her whole self — which is to say that physically she threw her body into song, but psychically she threw her mind into it as well.
Metric released Art of Doubt, a wonderfully absorbing album, several months ago, and then hit The Fillmore Silver Spring for a sold-out concert in its accompanying tour on Feb. 15. Emily — confident, buoyant, and yes striking — led the quartet through a set that touched on five of their seven albums, dazzling with the new songs and rallying with the familiar.
Early in the show, Metric performed a few of the very best songs from Art of Doubt — “Love You Back” and “Risk.” A particularly affecting song, “Risk” addressed the concept of hesitating before making the leap of faith into a relationship over some simply terrific synthlines. Throwing her head back or side to side, Emily crested and fell in sway to the rhythms conveyed by her powerful soprano voice.
Time and again, Emily would return to centerstage to play synths after bounding off to the front or side, and she often orbited her songwriting partner, guitarist Jimmy Shaw. Jimmy appeared as if a man with a firm hand on lightning, allowing Emily to bear the full emotive power of their music. But once in a while, he slipped a sly smile of satisfaction, when clearly something in the music or the moment seemed perfectly right to him. Jimmy seemed like the kind of perfectionist you would want in your corner.
Stream Art of Doubt by Metric on Spotify:
The first quarter of the show passed with Metric performing “Breathing Underwater” from Synthetica, the band’s 2012 fifth album. The number has become something of a theme song for the group as it has sprung forward from the success of the previous record, Fantasies. That’s not to say Metric haven’t always enjoyed critical success while growing an impressive fanbase — they have indeed. But that’s grown to a whole new level in the past 10 years, and you can imagine that “Breathing Underwater” encapsulated part of the feeling that Emily and Jimmy have about the situation — wondrous and curious in a world that continued to hold surprises.
Over the course of the show, bassist Joshua Winstead seamed caught in a hypnotic groove, weaving a web that ensnared those caught by his subtle style. And drummer Joules Scott-Key was a revelation, but he burned particularly bright on “Dead Disco” toward the end of the show, demonstrating his deft capacity to meld a very punk drumming rhythm to a funky beat at a death-defying cadence.
Speaking of the end of the show, the final quarter was a rollercoaster of awesome, particularly once Metric hit “Black Sheep,” popularized for its inclusion in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and followed with an amazing run that included many of the most formidable songs from Fantasies — “Gimme Sympathy,” “Sick Muse,” and “Gold Guns Girls.”
The encore struck another hit for Fantasies with “Help I’m Alive” wrapping the whole show after “Dark Saturday” and “Now or Never Now” from Art of Doubt.
There is little I could say to fully express the power and expressiveness of Metric’s music, particularly in that end run, as a cascade of poignant yet danceable tunes washed over the crowd. As proper new wave, Metric melded rock anthems with dance sensibilities, blending the dynamics provided by guitar and synthesizers into a seamless whole. To top it off, Emily’s unmatched voice, capable of expressing love, regret, tenacity, exasperation — all in one go, was the perfect instrument to express the band’s unstoppable energy. Metric’s music certainly has personality.
Metric are touring the United States and Canada through May 5. Buy your tickets to see them on the band’s website. Here are some pictures of Metric performing at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Feb. 15, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy Mickey McCarter with some rights reserved to Metric.