Coincidence or not, Toronto’s music scene was surprisingly well-represented in LA last week. The Great White North’s largest city has been its largest cultivator of electronic music since the early 2000’s, boasting some of EDM’s biggest and brightest names, whether it’s DJs and producers like DeadMau5 or live improvisational bands like Holy Fuck, who we saw debut brand-new material from what will be their first studio album in six years last Thursday night (read more about the show here). But if Holy Fuck’s hour-long set at Los Globos was simply there to serve as the undercard for Toronto’s aural invasion in LA over a brief 24-hour period, then the main event belonged to a different Queen City quartet the following night: Metric.
The indie/new wave four-piece fronted by Broken Social Scene’s Emily Haines has been at it for almost two decades now, with six studio albums to boot, including 2015’s Pagans in Vegas that dropped this past September. But with their last visit to LA seeing them perform only nine songs as opening support for Imagine Dragons at The Forum, Metric had yet to play a proper show in LA since unveiling Pagans. And as evidenced by the near-capacity crowd at the Hollywood Palladium last Friday for the band’s first headlining performance in quite a while, dating all the way back to 2012, many fans were ready to get their weekend started as they arrived early to catch Joywave’s opening set.
For as mainstream as Metric have become — and it’s only fitting considering that Haines and guitarist James Shaw originally named the group “Mainstream” when it first formed in 1998 as a duo — Joywave have garnered their own commercial success in their rather short career, though much of it can been attributed to “Dangerous”, the Big Data hit that peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. But the electronic-inspired, indie-rock act that calls Rochester, N.Y., home harnessed that momentum to write and release its debut LP How Do You Feel Now? on Hollywood Records, so it only seemed appropriate that Joywave were here in Tinseltown to perform material from the album.
Evidently, frontman Daniel Armbruster came ready for the moment, bringing what felt like a Red Bull’s worth of energy to the stage while working the crowd in between songs with some unorthodox, yet comedic stage banter. He mentioned the group’s upcoming performance at Coachella this April and joked about LA being the ninth-most-privileged city to hear its new track from the Alice in Wonderland movie that’s due out May 27th. In the end, it was one of those exceptionally strong sets from an opener — even with only 45 minutes to work with — and we can only wonder what Armbruster and his sidekicks could do with another album or two under their belt and their own headlining gig at a large LA venue like The Palladium.
When it came time for Metric to take the stage, the audience had been properly warmed up and was hungry for more. To kick off their 23-song set that lasted almost two hours, Haines, Shaw, bassist/keyboardist Joshua Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key transported us all the way back to 2003 with “IOU” from their debut album Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? But while it was fairly safe to assume that at least part of the reason why they were embarking on a 24-date tour across the U.S. was to support their latest album, Metric only unveiled a handful of songs — five to be exact — from Pagans.
Instead, the Canadian rockers put together a career-spanning performance, whether it was “Empty” from 2005’s Live It Out, “Raw Sugar” from 2007’s Grow Up and Blow Away, “Sick Muse” from 2009’s Fantasies or “Youth Without Youth” from 2012’s Synthetica. Yes, singles like “Dead Disco”, “Poster of a Girl”, “Monster Hospital”, “Help, I’m Alive”, “Front Row”, “Stadium Love” and their most recent hit “The Governess” were left off the setlist, yet that didn’t stop them from throwing in a few wrinkles, including an a cappella intro for “Hustle Rose” and some audience assistance for “Dreams So Real”, the latter of which didn’t quite deliver as planned.
Nevertheless, it was these slight deviations that kept fans on their toes throughout the show, proving that Metric are more than just the sum of their studio cuts. Their four-song encore continued along that path, as Haines and Shaw performed an acoustic rendition of “Gimme Sympathy” before Winstead and Scott-Key made their return and closed things out with the group’s 2012 single “Breathing Underwater”. And with all four members singing their hearts out until the night’s very last note, it was easy to see why Metric have become the critically acclaimed band that they are today.
Help I’m Alive
Youth Without Youth
Raw Sugar (a cappella intro)
Hustle Rose (a cappella intro)
Too Bad, So Sad
Dreams So Real (audience participation)
Blind Valentine (instrumental intro)
Combat Baby (a cappella portion)
Gold Guns Girls
Gimme Sympathy (Emily & James acoustic)