Last night, Torontos own Metric unofficially kicked off the 18th annual edition of North by Northeast by commandeering the creaky yet venerable Opera House concert venue to throw an invite-only party celebrating the release of their new album Synthetica. As its title suggests, Synthetica goes heavy on the electronic, but that didnt mean their show was bereft of rock, which is what Metric pretty much did for 90 straight minutes.
For the first five songs, it appeared as if Synthetica was being performed in order. Even though its only been streaming for a little over a week, the shoehorned crowd hung on Emily Haines every word no matter how dark they may be. By Lost Kitten, with Haines purring youve got my eyes, a full-blown dance party was threatening to break out, minus the glow sticks, thankfully. Upon hearing the reaction to perennial Metric favorite Hustle Rose (from 2003’s Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?), Haines visibly loosened up and began interacting more with the audience, motioning with her finger for everyone to come closer.
Old and new meshed seamlessly for the remainder of the night Metric wound up playing nine of Syntheticas 11 tracks, notably avoiding The Wanderlust, which sees Haines duet with Lou Reed. What’s interesting is that they left four of their so-called big hits off of 2009s Fantasies until the very end. Regardless of setlist structure and hometown love-in, Metric are in the process of graduating from kitsch indie rock to Nickelback-ian arena domination; in other words, one’s not likely to see them in a place this intimate when they return to Toronto in the fall. Haines herself knew this, and became emotional, stating, I cant play music and not feel something. With good friend Amy Millan of Stars as well as her own mother in attendance, the frontwoman teared up and concluded the set by having longtime guitarist/friend Jimmy Shaw accompany her for, as she put it, an acoustic version of our maximum fucking hit Gimme Sympathy.
As Haines said prophetically at one point, Truth prevails. On this night, Metric were the ones who triumphed. To borrow a line from their debut, theyre a full-grown band now and are ready to blow up. Bring on whatever the world has to offer!
Youth Without Youth
Speed the Collapse
Dreams So Real
Nothing But Time
Gold Guns Girls
Help Im Alive
Gimme Sympathy (acoustic)