The year 2017 was a good year for revisiting old friends as they returned to remind us that they truly still “got it.” In the past year, Parklife DC reviewed a great deal of musicians and bands, and the performances that really distinguished themselves often came as something of a pleasant surprise.
Scene: Birds chirped, signifying the arrival of morning. Emily Haines stumbled into stage and put down a suitcase. She changed into a dressing gown and goes to sleep, only to be woken moments later by her alarm clock.
She began an internal monologue, which admonished her for not getting enough sleep. The monologue in her head continued for a spell as Emily got up to play some songs solo at a piano. She appeared to be struggling with some questions: Is this where she wants to be? Is there some place or time to which she would like to return? Or has she never truly moved forward?
Emily Haines, the always melodic lead singer of Metric, released Choir of the Mind, a solo album with her project The Soft Skeleton, in September via Last Gang Records/eOne. Emily launched a solo tour that arrives at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue on Saturday, Dec. 2.
Experimental Canadian rock band Broken Social Scene released Hug of Thunder, its fifth studio album, via Arts & Crafts in July. The 17-person collective then launched a world tour that included a stop at 9:30 Club on Sept. 19. That night quickly sold out, and the band added a second show at 9:30 Club on Wednesday, Sept. 20. You can win tickets to attend that show with Parklife DC.
Emily Haines steps onto the stage and the room lights up.
Well, it literally does light up with intense shades of red from an explosive light show that her band Metric have orchestrated at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Sunday night. But it also lights up in the way that you cannot help but smile and gasp when Emily bounds onto stage to take her place alongside her bandmates.
Ebullient and effervescent, Emily engaged the audience throughout the evening in a show worthy of the band’s consistently strong material. Metric performed for nearly two full hours for a stop in their “I Can See the End” Tour, a name lifted from a line in “Breathing Underwater” from their 2012 album, Synthetica. The set list drew heavily from the last two albums (Synthetica and sixth album, Pagans in Vegas), but the band touched on all six of their records, kicking things off with “IOU” from their very first album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
Last September, Metric released a fantastic new album — their sixth — Pagans in Vegas. It continues a journey Metric began with their first album, as the Toronto quartet have blazed a trail from catchy melodies and clever wordplay to sophisticated vignettes of complex musical arrangements.
While fourth album Fantasies had a big sound reflecting its themes of life among others and fifth album Synthetica turned inward to assess life within ourselves, the new album straddles the two, which is appropriate as the band said they drew inspiration from influences like Depeche Mode and Underworld. The resulting songs occasionally project out or turn inward, but the results always make for excellent songcraft.
Lead singer Emily Haines is in fine form, and the band seem to have grown in such a way that depends less on her sassy demeanor and more on operating as a collective. In the lead-up to the album release, I caught Metric at the Verizon Center opening for Imagine Dragons on July 6, 2015, and observed: “Metric were in terrific form all around, and Emily sounded superb and looked fantastic.”
Now Metric return for their own headlining tour at The Fillmore Silver Spring this Sunday, March 13, in what is certain to be a great show.
In some of their latest music videos, Metric have opted for swirling visual effects rather than film of the band performing. Watch the official music video for “The Governess,” a song that gets a bit bluesy, by Metric on YouTube:
Metric also recorded acoustic versions of four of their songs this year at 11th Street Records in Las Vegas for a Spotify Session. Listen on Spotify!
I have long pointed to Metric as the standard-bearers for intelligent new wave music since their formation in 1998, and The New York Times recently echoed my sentiment in a review of the new album. “Whether the attitude is deeply cynical or brightly optimistic, the Canadian band Metric keeps its songs neat, succinct, and tuneful on its sixth album, Pagans in Vegas, making the lessons of 1980s new wave sound current,” said The Times.
Electro quintet Joywave open for Metric on Sunday! Tickets are available online.
Imagine Dragons perform at the Verizon Center tonight, Monday, July 6, and just as exciting is that the Vegas quartet are bringing along Toronto quartet Metric — in all of their Canadian new wave glory.
Metric have scheduled their sixth studio album, Pagans in Vegas, for release on Sept. 18, and last month they began a tour as openers for Imagine Dragons to expose audiences to the new material. How appropriate that the blokes from Vegas are helping Metric to promote their Vegas-referencing album!
Vocalist Emily Haines has said the album draws heavily from primary Metric influences Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Underworld. Metric has released two singles from the album so far — “The Shade” in May and “Cascades” in June — and the increased focus on synthesizers is evident from those two tracks alone.
While the music sounds even more electronic, Emily’s sweet voice definitely give the songs a sense of continuity between the new tracks and Metric’s bigger guitar-driven numbers.
Listen to “Cascades” on YouTube (with a minimalistically animated video):
If “Cascades” is representative of the rest of the album, this will be an amazing albeit different record for Metric. And all the more amazing undoubtedly will be the live show tonight. So show up early and don’t miss Metric!
Astralwerks’ recording artist Halsey kicks off the show as first opener, and she’s scheduled to go on at 7:30pm. Metric will follow, and then Imagine Dragons. Synchronize your watches!
Tickets are available online and at the box office.