Written by Robert Johnson (@RobertSatellite on Twitter)
Apr 30, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ImageEmily Haines is a star. The singer / songwriter for Metric is a transcendent figure, exuding an elegance, character, and musicianship as captivating as it is compelling. She was not an overnight star.

Since 1998, her band, Metric, has put in the hours and effort to make a mark on the industry.

By 2009, upon the release of Fantasies, the group had finally broken out. Interestingly enough, recognition didn’t come with the backing of major label. Instead, Metric did it all on its own, producing an album littered with fantastic compositions and radio-ready material.

Then, in 2012, Haines and company did it again. With its latest release, Synthetica, Metric caught lightning in a bottle again. Blending elements of indie and electronic rock, Metric fashioned a brand of music unlike anything already on the market. With an undying work-ethic, the band hit the road to engage its current fans, and certainly earn some new ones along the way. On April 30th, Metric hit up Houston’s House of Blues for one of the best shows of the year.

ImageThe lights went out and the stage lit to a purplish-blue. As a subtle organ sound penetrated the venue, the band members marched to the stage and assumed their positions. The subtle organ was soon met with the grinding sound of Jimmy Shaw’s guitar, which gradually ballooned with overpowering tone that enveloped the venue. And, like that, Emily Haines took to the mic and began “Artificial Nocturne,” singing “I’m just as fucked up as they say, I can’t fake the daytime, found an entrance into the dark.” Midway through the song, the energy took a dramatic shift. With a prevailing upbeat tempo as the backdrop, Haines finished the song dancing throughout the stage area without missing a single note. The tone was set.

In the second song, Youth Without Youth, the excellence of bassist Joshua Winstead really started to shine. Winstead set a vibe and energy that Haines and Shaw would match. The intensity level in the House of Blues was boiling over. For this song, Haines rotated effortlessly between keyboard duties and vocal leads, all while conducting the crowd like a symphony.

After playing “Speed the Collapse,” the band slowed things down a bit for “Dreams So Real.” With a very subtle rhythm, vintage analog synths, and effect-driven guitar, the music set the beautiful landscape for Haines to showcase her unique voice while allowing the crowd to relax a bit after a quick and passionate start to the night.

The crowd didn’t get to rest for long. As soon as the band performed the first few notes of the immensely popular “Help I’m Alive,” the roof blew off the building. Behind the band, huge light crates illuminated to the flow of the songs. With the help of the crazy lightshow, Haines directed the fans throughout the entire song. For the verses and bridges, Haines was the embodiment of perpetual motion, jumping and dancing as she delivered another stunning vocal performance. During the chorus, she extended her fist into the air, pounding it to-and-fro to the beat of drums (rather, “beating like a hammer,” as the lyrics suggest).

“Breathing Underwater” is a song that truly captures the essence of Metric. With the delicate, soft vocals of Emily Haines, Shaw’s dynamic guitar expertise, Winstead’s complex and thoughtful bass riffs, and the smooth transitions of Scott-Key’s drums to guide the song, “Breathing Underwater” allowed each member of the band to shine. In fact, the song was only topped by “Help I’m Alive” in crowd participation and enthusiasm.

ImageWhen the song ended, the crowd energy wouldn’t dissipate. In a moment that will only be shared by those in attendance, the band broke into an impromptu song. A lively Haines started humming a simple melody, prancing across the stage as the crowd clapped a beat. Shaw seized the opportunity to lay down some synths, and suddenly, a song was born. By the end, Haines highlighted the event, saying “that just happened… that was just for you.” It was with that particular crowd, with that unique energy, that allowed the band to spontaneously create a song. Continuing in the moment, Haines’ character really started to resonate with the crowd as she shared stories. She relayed a question she recently received – “are you building your brand?” The response? “Well, I have my friends,” she said. Afterall, isn’t that what really matters?

After a couple more songs, the band left the stage, only to quickly return for an encore. For the first time in the evening, Haines dawned an electric guitar for “Gold Guns Girls.” Much like “Help I’m Alive” and “Breathing Underwater,” “Gold Guns Girls” brought the crowd to a frenzy. At the completion of the song, only Haines, Shaw, and an acoustic guitar remained on stage for the finale, “Gimme Sympathy.” Fans in the crowd took control, singing every single word of the song. By the end, Winstead and Scott-Key had returned to the stage, applauding the crowd and taking a well-deserved bow.

It’s undeniable – Metric is absolutely magic live. In fact, the show was nearly perfect. If there could be any viable critique, it would be that the set was somewhat short. However, the performances throughout the evening were flawless. Haines didn’t miss a note. Shaw, Winstead, and Scott-Key nailed every riff and progression. A combination of a phenomenal fan base, brilliant instrumentation, and stunning lead vocals, Metric is a must for any concert bucket list.


Artificial Nocturne
Youth Without Youth
Speed the Collapse
Dreams So Real
Help I’m Alive
Breathing Underwater
Sick Muse
Dead Disco


Gold Guns Girls
Gimme Sympathy (Acoustic)

Contact Robert at robert@starsandsatellites.com