Monday, May 17, 2010

Metric @ Terminal 5

Metric; Bear in Heaven
@ Terminal 5
New York, NY - May 16, 2010

Capping off a weekend of if it ain't broke, don't fix it, Metric affirmed that bands that matter develop a sound, finesse it, work with it, deviate in creative yet familiar ways and just simply give it their all. I passed up seeing the band play this venue last June, thinking they would be back again in the late summer or early fall. But they didn't come back. And so 2009 passed in which I didn't see a live performance by one of my favorite bands, one of the best live acts in the world, and it was in the year in which they put out their first record in four years, the best record of 2009 - Fantasies.
And because Fantasies is essentially an album of 10 singles, Metric's live game is now on another level. They were already an immense experience but there were still whispers of the original soft-spoken electric-pop duo that made its way up in New York before hauling off to Toronto. Now armed with an array of well-worked loud rock n roll numbers, Metric is all MEGA all the time. It really shines on "Gold Guns Girls" in which Mr. Shaw unloads a live solo for the ages. It's hard to make the guitar stand out in bass-and-drum heavy T5 but Jimmy Shaw tamed the beast. It's no surprise that "Stadium Love" is designed to work exactly as its name intends - an anthem to end all anthems. When I first heard this song at the Highline show in 2008, I spent the next 8 months searching every day for some sort of recording of it to get that feeling back. I had to wait till Fantasies. Then live I had to wait till tonight. It was worth the wait.
The music wasn't the only thing amplified. The light show, something of a Metric staple, has gone off the charts. I mean the seizure-inducing-charts. Tone it down, guys. In fact the only thing not amped up to 11 was "Combat Baby", which is now the set-ending acoustic balladeer (and it was fine but the original sound was missed).
Am I really going to get through this without writing about Emily? I could say, "I already did. She IS Metric." But that's inaccurate. While her voice and her stage presence and her lyrics make her the center of gravity, she is - and she knows she is and embraces it - part of a bigger picture. With Jimmy, Josh, and Joules, Emily has more than just a trio of talented guys. She has a BAND. It has been a weekend (and a good few weeks) of reminders of what it means in rock n roll to have a BAND.

Bear in Heaven are your typical Indie band of the moment: they sound both a bit spaced-out and a bit like an 80's soundtrack. They have prominent facial hair action. And they have "Bear" in their name. They were better than I was originally willing to give them credit for. The lead vocalist (he of the 'tache) had a heck of a voice and put it to use.

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