Touring their Fall 2015 release Pagans In Vegas, Metric began a lush set at the Orpheum in Boston chronologically with “IOU.” It’s the first track from their debut album Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? It was a grand representation of where these Canadians are—starting off with the chunky riffed track while blanketed by smoke and sharp lights, the dichotomy of the moment shows their electronic trajectory. Giant bulbs formed two bright triangle structures behind the band. The geometric focal points were mimicked in the band’s stage positioning along with blasting white strobes. It presented a clean, modernist visual exemplifying Bauhaus design aesthetics for an austere yet mystifying presence.
Through their six studio albums, synth pop elements have progressively fallen into place leaving new wave rock roots in hindsight. This comes as no surprise given lead Emily Haines’ upbringing. With a creatively experimental past, it’s engrained in her process, and it’s been a part of the band’s entire mission statement to create freely. This doesn’t mean they’ll soon turn into all 8-bit band. Just before launching into “Dreams So Real” from 2012’s Synthetica Haines invited what she referred to as a “Boston Choir” onstage saying, “The soul gets crushed by reality. I need human interaction.” Gripping a golden mic and dressed in all black leather, she appeared as a musical messiah to the group. The song wrapped up with the audience in full on “awwwww” mode as Haines sweetly encouraged a shy young fan to hold her hand and belt out the final notes.
Fuzzy keyboards took center stage with her as well throughout the evening—serving as a home base for Haines to dance back and forth whenever deep beats and effects were integrated. The prominently displayed keys served as an extension of where they’re at as a band not afraid to push into new territory. Haines encouraged everyone to embrace their individualism throughout the night, guiding good vibes with her powerful stage presence. Being the last night of their tour titled “I Can See The End,” hopefully it doesn’t foreshadow a band split.
Openers Joywave began the night powerfully for the electronic mentors. With big, black letters repeating the word “destruction” loudly on their orange background, I anticipated hearing morose tunes akin to Joy Division. Their lead singer, however, did not appear as an Ian Curtis reincarnate—Daniel Armbruster instead commanded the stage with a playful ego that a group of young girls fawned over from stage side. The electro-indie poppers have garnered a devoted following in the freshman year of releasing their debut LP How Do You Feel Now? with good reason. Performing with cocky enthusiasm, Armbruster introduced “Somebody New” saying, “This next song is a great song. Some call it the greatest song ever written.” As they serenaded across the stage, bass player Sean Donnelly carried his own torch, bashing rhythms out as if he were in an 80s hardcore band. They were familiar yet unique with beats that are trapped in my head.