When Metric played “Dead Disco” at House of Blues last night, the synth's high-pitched alien screeching, rippling guitar growls, and bouncy percussion meant that the band was bringing a new kind of dance music to town. Audience members bounced on their heels, clapping their hands above their heads as frontwoman Emily Haines strutted across the stage, shrugging her shoulders to the beat.
The song hit the back of House of Blues hard and fast, but like a few other songs in the set, it paused for a long breakdown in the middle. The Canadian band has the change-of-mood-and-tempo thing down to a science. The slow momentum always built up to explosive sound and rapidly pulsing lights.
While neither Haines nor anyone else in the band had much to say in between songs, they owned the stage with jagged movements and rapid-fire solos.
Material from Metric’s fourth album, Fantasies, made up most of the set, which began with the creepy, robotic exuberance of “Twilight Galaxy.” “Satellite Mind,” “Help I’m Alive,” and “Gold Guns Girls” pulsed through the hall with the kind of energy that could power thousands of batteries.
“Sick Muse,” which sounds like a tribute to Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” on record, sounded less like '80s dance music and more like rock and roll with James Shaw’s spaghetti-western guitars, Josh Winstead’s bumbling bass, and Joules Scott-Key’s syncopated percussion.
But Haines was the true force of power, wrapping the crowd around her finger with her endless liveliness. She pranced, hopped, headbanged, and high-fived fans, all while playing the synthesizer and electric guitar, and crooning dark lyrics like “If I stumble, they’re gonna eat me alive.”
For the encore, Metric went to both extremes, first by taking on the punky “Monster Hospital,” and ending with an acoustic version of “Combat Baby.” As Shaw and Haines turned the feisty favorite into a bedtime tune, they smiled at each other knowingly. They’ve finally reached a stage in their career where they’re good enough to drastically alter fan favorites and still leave them wanting more. —Danielle Sills