"Who'd you rather be? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?"
Metric vocalist Emily Haines poses that question during the chorus of the band's "Gimme Sympathy," one of ten stellar tracks off their Fantasies album that dropped last spring.
While it's fairly certain as that song progresses the mop-tops might have the edge, it seemed at Terminal 5 in New York City on May 16 that Mick and the boys might actually win out after all - at least when it came to energy. Summoning the Rolling Stones frontman only with multiple breaks to play instruments flawlessly, Haines was Red Bulling it all night long, playing the hell out of her synthesizer and guitar, and dancing and jumping around, commissioning the crowd to do the same which they did with precision.
Haines' vocals and energy weren't the only reason to feel privileged to be in the sold-out crowd that night. There was a sense, in a way, that even though the band has been around for a while - their debut came out in 2003 - and have had some success in the past (Monster Hospital broke through in 2005), this current tour is their mainstream rock coming out party. Fantasies has propelled the melodic rockers into overdrive with alt-rock stations giving significant airplay to tracks like "Help I'm Alive" and the aforementioned "Sympathy," and Haines as a both a songwriter and performer coming into her own.
Speaking of which, and back to that NYC show, Haines was mesmerizing throughout - she seemed most at home and honestly - in a trance playing synth and feeding into the audience's responses as she performed golden nuggets like "Sick Muse," "Gold Guns Girls," and "Stadium Love," the last of which she shed light on the sold-out crowd attendance. (The crowd ranged from 18 year olds who probably just know them for their last album to 35 year old faithful listeners.) Haines also nicely stripped down vocals on breakout hit "Dead Disco."
The band, which consists of guitarist James Shaw, bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key, also brought their A-game and played a tight hour-or-so set (mostly
"Fantasies" stuff) flawlessly as blue and strobe lights exploded. Speaking of the latter, the uses nearly reached epileptic levels.
A sold-out show in New York's a great start toward world dominance, but the band's arguably not quite ready to headline stages like they do in Canada. Case in point: On my way to the venue, a scalper came up to me and asked "Who needs tickets to 'The Matrix?'" But, they're getting... and they will get there.
Photos by Jon Chattman