Photos By: Josh Claros
By: Connor Cox
Canadian indie rock veterans, Metric returned to San Diego last week performing a sold out, two-night residency at the House of Blues. It was particularly exciting because it was their first headlining shows in San Diego in years.
Previously they weren’t the supporting act for Imagine Dragons, which had prevented me from seeing them in the past (sorry Imagine Dragons.) Now they have built up a strong enough U.S. fanbase to sellout shows months in advance. I was lucky enough to attend the Thursday evening show, where the show room was so crowded that finding space to park my towering structure without blocking anyone’s view was seemingly impossible.
Metric performed a 22 song setlist that included a healthy balance of new material and classics. They surprisingly opened the set with “IOU” from their debut album, which confused newcomers and excited long time fans. In between songs frontwoman Emily Haines asked the audience if anyone had requests. The audience’s response was too tumultuous for her to comprehend. She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. However I did hear one drunken fan shout “FREEBIRD!” several times.
Setlist aside, the four-piece are remarkable performers. Frontwoman Emily Haines is a charismatic band leader who impressively masters her technically complicated set up and manages to engage with the audience. And the chemistry between guitarist James Shaw, bassist Joshua Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key is unreal.
Perhaps the strangest observation I made was how receptive fans were to the new material. It was my understanding that Pagans in Vegas was somewhat of a commercial flop due to promotional complications. For instance, last year I learned Metric was releasing an album only two weeks in advance of its release. When I asked friends if they were aware that Metric was releasing a new album, they were as oblivious as I was. That didn’t seem to be the case for this crowd. There was significantly louder cheering from fans for the performance of “Lie Lie Lie”. More cheering than hits like “Help I’m Alive” and “Sick Muse”.
My main criticism of the set wasn’t the amount of new songs, but the lack of pre-Fantasies songs. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy Pagans and Vegas – it’s certainly a different direction for the band and far from a musical cop out – but it would have been great to hear material from Grow up and Blow Away like the song of the same title or “Torture Me”.