Metric at the State Theatre, 9/11/12

Metric at the State Theatre, 9/11/12
Photo by Stacy Schwartz

with Half Moon Run
State Theatre, Minneapolis
September 11, 2012

The State Theatre is a gorgeous venue, but it's not exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think "rock show." But as Metric first took the stage last night, and Emily Haines strutted out, suddenly the entire crowd was on its feet, ready to move as though the show was taking place a few buildings down, at First Ave.

It wasn't a courtesy rise; audience members did not sit back down once in the entirety of the 90-minute set. Metric isn't really the sort of band you sit down for, anyway.

See Also:
Metric let their hearts bleed all over First Avenue

"I'm just as fucked up as they say," sang Emily Haines, opening the night with "Artificial Nocturne." As Haines bounced lightly around the stage, her glistening pale legs extending from some strategically short shorts, her pop-fairy voice masked the mournful nature of the song. Metric's lyrics--especially to the songs off the band's recent fifth album Synthetica -- are like that: modern, eerily self-aware, and inescapably catchy. Pop with a soul, if you will -- though last night, Metric sounded like the farthest thing from bubblegum joy.

Metric at the State Theatre, 9/11/12
Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Metric at the State Theatre, 9/11/12
Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Haines led the show in a tight progression, in control of the entire evening. Of the 13 songs Metric played before their encore, they sprung for a lot of new material -- which fit perfectly and tightly. "Lost Kitten" punched powerfully through its own melody, and Haines stalked the stage more like a predator than a victim, as the song would lead a listener to believe. As she introduced "Help, I'm Alive" to the eager audience, each line of "beating like a hammer" punctuated by synthed-up suspense, it was very hard to imagine Emily Haines being vulnerable enough for anyone to eat her alive.

Metric progressed quickly into blistering, frenzied rock. Guitarist James Shaw was a positive force of nature; "Sick Muse" was easy and tempo-driven until it erupted into "Dead Disco" and the furious, house-shaking "Stadium Love."

Metric at the State Theatre, 9/11/12
Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Metric at the State Theatre, 9/11/12
Photo by Stacy Schwartz

It's the mark of a great show that can get a stereotypically tame Midwestern audience moving, and Metric certainly needed no help in winning the love of their audience. It was clear that the band felt very at home at the State, and in Minneapolis in general.

"You end up having family, kind of, in every town," said Haines of touring repeatedly, and she shared some fond memories of Minneapolis. "We were here for Thanksgiving one year, and the folks at First Ave kind of just invited us in, like a bunch of homeless people... It's a great vibe, and we're just really happy to be here."


As the band left the stage before their encore, the fancy, expensive light show that had been pulsing behind them all night long--weird patterns of flashing bars, like some antiquated video game--formed numbers and began a two-minute countdown. Right on the mark, the band appeared back on stage and blazed through "Monster Hospital" and "Gold Guns Girls." It was their closing song, though, an acoustic rendition of "Gimme Sympathy," that brought the otherwise ferocious show to a sweet, tender close.

"I'm a hippie in black," admitted Haines, "so sing along if you know the words."

And then commenced the sing-along, the hand-waving, and clapping in time. As the band gathered on stage, front and center, all smiles and happiness, it was an easy moment to share.

Critic's bias: I admit to loving certain Metric songs, but was pretty unbiased about the band as a whole.

The crowd: Age-spanning. As Haines herself reminded us, the band has been together for around a decade; there were salt-and-pepper do's alongside young hipsterish folk.

Overheard in the crowd: "They look like some Jersey Shore dudes!" said Stacy Schwartz, our photographer, of the two dudes that were enthusiastically shimmying and dancing in the left wing of the balcony. I mean, these guys were seriously rocking out. Good for them.

Random notebook dump: Opening band Half Moon Run was an unexpected and totally awesome treat. There weren't very many people around to catch most of their generous set, which is a shame, because the Montreal quartet was fantastic. A little Great Lake Swimmers meets Dry The River, Half Moon Run are pros at the indie folk ballad with synth layers. "No More Losing The War" convinced me to purchase the band's recent debut album, Dark Eyes, which I do not regret at all.

Metric at the State Theatre, 9/11/12
Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Set list:
Artificial Nocturne
Youth Without Youth
Speed The Collapse
Dreams So Real
Lost Kitten
Help, I'm Alive
Breathing Underwater
Sick Muse
Dead Disco
Stadium Love
Monster Hospital
Gold Guns Girls
Gimme Sympathy

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