Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Metric and Holy Fuck at The Mod Club in Toronto
Frank YangWhen Metric’s latest album Fantasies first became available to stream a month ago, the immediate reaction around the interwebs seemed to be largely along the lines of breathless, “their best album yet!”-type praise (tempered by the mandatory, “worst ever!” naysayers). I myself took to it far quicker than I did their last effort Live It Out, which I never really took to at all, and thought this would be the record to rekindle what had once been an intense interest in the band but which had waned significantly in recent years. Some more time spent with the album has tempered that opinion a bit – Fantasies boasts some of Metric’s very best choruses and some killer catchy tunes, but it’s not the game-changer they’d probably have to deliver to really turn me around completely. But that’s alright because it’s obvious that many, many people love them just the way they are and “just another Metric record” is probably synonymous with, “best thing in the world”.
And it was with these people that the Mod Club, a venue many times smaller than the band normally plays these days, was packed with on Tuesday night. The intimate hometown club show was one of the special events held to mark the new record’s release, following an even smaller secret show and in-store in the preceding weeks. For me, it’d been over five and a half years since I’d seen them play a full show (the exception being part of their V Fest 2007 set) – a fact I had to double-check to make sure was correct – so the experience was a bit odd, like running into someone you knew a long time ago and presumed to still know, but possibly/probably didn’t at all.
Opening things up were electro-instrumentalists Holy Fuck, a band who themselves are used to headlining much larger rooms. While I like their recorded output alright, I always enjoy seeing them live as they perform with more energy than a couple guys standing at makeshift tables decked out with keyboards and effects pedals have any right to, mutating their songs in real time. The privilege of seeing them do their thing in such close quarters seemed to be largely lost on the audience, however, who were there for one thing and one thing only.
And for that one thing – Metric, if you weren’t keeping up – they had to wait, as the band didn’t take the stage until over half an hour later than their scheduled set time (kind of like back in 2003 – nice to see some things don’t change). I don’t think anyone cared, though, based on the roars that greeted them when they finally strode onstage and into “Twilight Galaxy”, from Fantasies. Not the most high-energy opener, but an effective intro even with Emily Haines’ synth not firing on all cylinders. The roadies rectified it almost immediately after the song’s end, however, and the band played the song’s outro again to demonstrate how much better it’d have sounded if the synth had been working. Cute.
The last couple times I’d seen Haines live was in her solo/Soft Skeleton guise and banter or audience interaction was largely verboten, so I was a bit surprised at how chatty and engaging she was from the get-go. Of course, her banter was Billy Bob-esque in its randomness and incoherence, but it was nice to see her making the effort and the devout audience ate up every rambling word. There was no lack of focus in her performance, though – she and her Aladdin Sane makeup demonstrated the charisma that makes her arguably one of the most dynamic frontpersons in Canada, even if some of it felt more rehearsed than spontaneous.
The show focused heavily on Fantasies, with nine of the ten tracks getting aired, which suited me fine. Contrasted with the new material’s undeniable melodic and anthemic qualities, Live It Out‘s aggressive guitar-led tunes sounded even more abrasive (in a bad way) than I remembered. Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? was represented only by “Dead Disco”, and I’d thought that would be the end of the main set but had forgotten that they now had “Stadium Love”, a glorious anthem that will rightly close their shows from now until the end of time.
The encore consisted of “Monster Hospital” and a greatly stripped-down “Live It Out”, but by then I’d inched almost out the door and barely heard Haines thanking everyone and declaring her love for everyone. And possibly selling anti-depressants, it wasn’t entirely clear. Putting aside some garbage that left me in a somewhat sour mood most of the night, including but not limited to a heinously drunk guy threatening to smash a bottle on my head for asking him to stop shoving before the show had even started, Metric put on an impressive show that’s well-suited for the large-scale stages that they’ve grown accustomed to playing and will no doubt continue to do, buoyed by the mass appeal of Fantasies. It also made it clear that I’ll likely never be as into the band as I once was – we’ll always have 2003 – but they’ll go far, these ones.
eye, Chart, The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star and The National Post all have reviews of the show. RCRDLBL has a remix of “Help, I’m Alive” available to download and Ear Farm, Canada.com and The National Post have interviews with the band. Their spending the next few months touring the world and will return home for a June 20 show as part of Edgefest at Downsview Park. Holy Fuck are touring Europe and the US this Spring and do a hometown show at Harbourfront Centre on July 10.
Photos: Metric @ The Mod Club – April 14, 2009
MP3: Holy Fuck – “Lovely Allen”
MP3: Holy Fuck – “Jungles”
Video: Metric – “Gimme Sympathy”
Video: Metric – “Monster Hospital”
Video: Metric – “Poster Of A Girl”
Video: Metric – “Empty”
Video: Metric – “Dead Disco”
Video: Metric – “Combat Baby”
Video: Metric – “Succexy”
Video: Holy Fuck – “Lovely Allen”
Video: Holy Fuck – “Milkshake”
MySpace: Holy Fuck
Video: The Dears – “Disclaimer”
Phoenix, not seen in these parts since V Fest 2006, will return on June 15 for a show at, wait for it, The Phoenix. Did that just blow your mind a little? Yeah. Full tour dates at Stereogum. Their new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is out May 29. Here’s a video. You can grab an MP3 from their website.
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
This Saturday is Record Store Day. Go out and hug your local record store. eye has a round-up of what’s going on at stores around Toronto while Pitchfork has rounded up some of the limited edition goodies that’ll be available at some outlets courtesy of various record labels.