There’s something bold and even confrontational about kicking off a show with the line “I’m just as f***ed up as they say.” But Emily Haines of Metric did just that last night at the State Theater, setting the bar high for a set of honest, from-the-heart lyricism set to throttling new wave and bursting arena rock beats.
Haines is the rare artist who performs so indefatigably that she almost takes on superhuman qualities; she is never seen even taking a sip of water, waits until seven songs in to even address the crowd and 10 songs in to take a long enough break to speak, and fills every moment spent away from her keyboard with shoulder-shimmying dance moves and antagonizing tambourine shakes. At times she seems so brazen and unflinching that she almost seems robotic, and it makes the confessional nature of her songwriting even more alluring.
Metric played all but three tracks from their latest studio album, Synthetica, but the fact that the set was heavy on new material did nothing to dissuade the crowd from staying on their feet throughout the entire set and swaying along. It also provided a nice forward momentum for the set, with “Help, I’m Alive” and “Synthetica” proving to be cozy neighbors and a triple-play of fan favorites “Sick Muse,” “Dead Disco,” and “Stadium Love” ratcheting the energy higher and higher in the encore.
Haines took a moment prior playing that trio of hits to warmly address the crowd, saying, “It’s good to be back in Minneapolis. This band has been together for 10 years now, and we have all these memories. The 7th St. Entry was our first show, and then you get to move up to First Avenue; the thing that’s crazy is you end up having family in every town.” She recalled a year when they were in town over Thanksgiving and were invited to take part in the club’s annual feast, adding that “they invited us in like a bunch of homeless people, which we kind of are.”
It was that moment of sincerity that instantly evaporated any rock-star ethos Haines had built up throughout the show, and it reminded me of how easily she connected with fans at her stripped-down session in the UBS Forum with guitarist James Shaw this past June. They recreated that intimate vibe during the final song of the encore, when Haines and Shaw led a sweet acoustic sing-along to another crowd favorite, “Gimme Sympathy.”
Metric set list:
Youth Without Youth
Speed The Collapse
Dreams So Real
Help, I’m Alive
Gold Guns Girls
Gimme Sympathy (acoustic)