The hiss and warped clash of Danny Gonzalez' bass and singer Gabriel Alcala's guitar never sounded grander than inside the cavernous Fillmore. Alcala's usual echo-effected barking vocals had an extra layer of resonance as the band shredded through one song after another with hardly a pause. But apparently it wasn't fast enough.
Alcala dedicated their last song "Fruits" to his mom, dad, and sister. The band began to perform the perky song with an ominous intro, but a few seconds in, they suddenly stopped. "So, I guess we can't play that last song," Alcala said matter-of-factly. "Thank you very much. Good night," and the stage was swarmed by roadies re-arranging things, as the three packed up their gear.
Less than 25 minutes later, at 9:30 exactly, the house lights went down, and two bright blue spots lit up a synthesizer at the front of the stage. A crane camera suddenly swept over the pit, and Metric bounded out, starting with "Artificial Nocturne." With its spare opening first verse that returns on a second refrain with added layers of synth and a crystalline guitar line at almost double time, the song is capped by singer Emily Haines cooing vocals. It made for an irresistible opening number.
Metric offered up a tight show that featured a heavy selection from their latest album, Synthetica. Haines kept her legs active, playing a zippy keyboard accompaniment while doing some high knee drills as James Shaw took the spotlight for a stomp-worthy guitar solo on "Youth Without Youth."
Shaw stood mostly in one spot, to Haines' right, his lanky body ecstatically bending notes out of his guitar or adding extra synth sounds with a handy pair of keyboards. Bassist Joshua Winstead was the only one close to as animated as the frontwoman. He swung his bass, juggling one foot with the other as he writhed like the best sprightly New Wave bass players of the past. Joules Scott-Key's accompaniment on a rather spare drum kit was solid and active, featuring spry fills that kept the songs dynamic.
After a perky version of "Speed the Collapse," the set slowed down for the brief, minimalist "Dreams So Real." Its bombastic, dense synth melody and Haine's anthemic lyrics make it one of the more compelling entries in the Metric catalog. Haines sampled herself with the mantra "I shut up and carry on," which detracted a bit from the song's deliberate power but also kept the pace brisk.
Then it was off to a real sing-a-long with "Empty" of Metric's 2005 album Live Out Loud. Haines led the crowd with a little call and response, telling them "Let me hear you," followed by a "bop, bah-dah, bop." She threw out a few calls to "Miami," as the song shifted into a low-key groove. Shaw teased "Artificial Noctourne" revealing how his guitar playing has evolved from pummeling to intricate over the years.
The, twisting, near-prog-quality of "Empty" then gave way to another crowd favorite, "Help, I'm Alive." This song again featured audience participation as Haines hammered her fist at the crowd in the pit, and they hammered back at her for the "beating like a hammer" chorus.