For those who have never heard of them, Metric are a wonderful indie rock group headed by Emily Haines and James Shaw, who also perform as part of Broken Social Scene. They are one of those bands which justify indie rock as a whole by releasing album after album of solid, intelligent music. Versatile and honest, their music is a pleasure to hear. Seeing them live though was a whole different experience. It was without doubt one of the two best concerts that I have ever been to.
The opening act was a Nashville-based rock act known as Mona. I had never heard them before and their performance made it abundantly clear why exactly that was. About the only thing that can be said to their credit is that they did have a very eclectic set list. Unfortunately, they could not even manage a jack-of-all-trades performance, coming off more as a four-to-six-of-all-trades performance. These things are regrettable, but they do happen. Let us pass on.
Metric live is a very different beast from Metric recorded. Their albums are often quite soft, but their concert rocked hard from can to can’t. There was improvisation a-plenty, there were guitar solos and distortions, they were almost an entirely new band, but in a really good way. We don’t go to concerts just to sing along to what we already know. We go to see the performers put on a show, and that should always result in something new.
Live shows are where many bands fail as their music just is not suited to the setting, but Metric put enough rock into their music to assuage any such worries. Emily Haines is an excellent front to the band, displaying enough energy to electrify a theater full of people nearly made catatonic by the opening act. This was an incredible performance in every way. It was mostly hits, but there were a few songs in there that I had never heard before. Their encore was also quite noteworthy. They started with the ever-fun Black Sheep from the Scott Pilgrim movie and also dropped in a really good version of Gold Guns Girls and a very intimate acoustic two-man Gimme Sympathy. Also, the lighting were incredible and it does make a difference.
All told, this was a great concert and I will definitely see them again when they next come to San Francisco. They may be very different in their shows when compared to their recordings, but it makes for a much better live experience. I enjoyed myself, and it seems inconceivable that anyone there did not.