Music Park: Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton @ Sixth and I — 12/2/17

EmilyHainesDC01Emily Haines performs as Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue on Dec. 2. 2017.

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?

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Don’t Miss: Thrival Innovation + Music Festival @ Carrie Furnaces, Pittsburgh, Pa., 5/23-24

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Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches performs in Baltimore, Md., on June 12, 2016.

Much of Pittsburgh has been embracing a new economy that encompasses industries outside of its traditional steel-town past. Thrill Mill Inc., a nonprofit that provides local entrepreneurs with free resources to grow business, supports the growth of Pittsburgh companies in new frontiers.

To call attention to its mission and raise some money to fund these resources, Thrill Mill this week presents the Thrival Innovation + Music Festival. Starting on Tuesday, Thrival Innovation + Music Festival presents programming around the city to position Pittsburgh as the world leader in post-industrial economic development, and the festival caps the week with a two-day music festival. (Check out all of the programming online.)

Thrival executive producer Dan Law said in a statement, “Recently, Pittsburgh finds itself on a number of ‘top’ lists, but so much of our city remains undiscovered to a broader audience. The festival offers that unique opportunity to witness why Pittsburgh is a modern comeback story.”

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Music Park: Metric @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 3/13/16

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Emily Haines strikes one of many triumphant poses during the Metric show at The Fillmore Silver Spring on March 13, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

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?

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Don’t Miss: Metric @ The Fillmore Silver Spring, 3/13/16

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Metric (Photo by Norman Wong)

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.

Metric
w/ Joywave
The Fillmore Silver Spring
Sunday, March 13
Show @8pm
$31
All ages

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:

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Don’t Miss: Metric (Opening for Imagine Dragons) @ Verizon Center, 7/6/15

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Metric (Photo by Norman Wong)

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.

Metric
opening for Imagine Dragons
Verizon Center
Today, Monday, July 6
Doors @6:30pm
Show @7:30pm
$29.50-$69.50
All ages

Around Town: Get Ready for July Part 2

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DC, so much to do in July!

From Dave Grohl celebrating 20 years of Foo Fighters, to the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg bobblehead night, to the start of Screen on the Green, there are infinite options to keep you occupied this month. See Part 1 of this list here.

Music
Just a few of the many concerts we like in July.

Foo Fighters 20th Anniversary Blowout @ RFK Stadium, 7/4/15
Enjoy the 4th of July with Dave Grohl and gang, along with Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, LL Cool J, and more.

Metric and Imagine Dragons @ Verizon Center, 7/6/15

Mudhoney @ Black Cat, 7/7/15

Little Boots @ U Street Music Hall, 7/25/15

Friday Night Concert Series @ Yards Park – July

  • Almost Journey (Journey Tribute), 7/3/15
  • Hand Painted Swinger (Pop Hits), 7/10/15
  • Wesley Spangler (Crossover Country), 7/17/15
  • Justin Trawick (Indie Folk Rock), 7/24/15
  • White Ford Bronco (’90’s Covers), 7/31/15

Sports
Nationals’ Home Games @ Nationals Park
The Nats are hot. It’s not a weather thing. Take yourself out to the ballgame. Get a bobblehead.

  • vs. Gaints, 7/3-7/5/15 (Strasburg bobblehead alert, 7/5)
  • vs. Reds, 7/6-7/8/15
  • vs. Dodgers, 7/17-7/19/15
  • vs. Mets, 7/20-7/22/15

Movies and Shows
Screen On the Green @ The National Mall
The Screen on the Green kicks off another season with a few classic movies.

  • North By Northwest, 7/20/15
  • Poseidan Adventure, 7/27/15

Book of Mormon @ The Kennedy Center – July
Laugh. Be offended. Or both. A must see while it’s still in DC!