Concert Review: Metric, 9:30 Club DC, June 18, 2009

Posted on by Tom in Concerts, Everything | Leave a comment


It is not very often that you go to a show and leave not really knowing what you thought of it.  Last Thursday, Metric played a concert like that at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, mainly covering tracks from their latest album, “Fantasies”.

On the one hand, Metric has clearly grown as a band since the last time I saw them play at the 9:30 Club about 3 years ago. Metric’s popularity in the US has undoubtedly expanded and they played to a packed house, a stark contrast to the last time I saw them. On the other hand, the sound was off throughout the set and the band didn’t sound crisp. The vocal levels were the main offender, being both fuzzy and anomalously loud.

Although the band has audibly matured, Metric’s live shows remain dominated by front-woman Emily Haines. Her energy-infused performance was impressive, and was clearly the highlight of the show. At times she was mesmerizing on stage, as she switched from tambourine to synthesizer to crazy dances. Unfortunately, the rest of the band was infinitely forgettable. They were merely passengers for the set, remaining essentially faceless and voiceless.

The banter and interaction between the band and the audience was virtually non-existent, as five complete songs played before any words were exchanged with the crowd. The brief diatribes that Haines shared with us were often lost on most of the audience due to the fuzzy vocal levels and strange topics (e.g., before playing Stadium Love, Haines likened the song to the national anthem for the band, which has both American and Canadian members). However, people seemed to enjoy themselves and were more dynamic than most Washington DC crowds, with a lot of dancing and fist pumping. Ultimately, as a band, that is what you want to see.

Underwhelming as the show was, I still enjoyed it more than I disliked it.

You can catch a live recording of the DC show from the NPR website here

Read an in-depth interview with Emily Haines by Spin Earth here.

NXNE Concert Review: Matt & Kim, Whippersnapper Gallery & Wrongbar, June 19th

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Everything, North By Northeast | 2 Comments

Matt & Kim

Toronto – The Whippersnapper Gallery is not a big place, and it was packed last Friday night with a small horde of sweat-drenched hipsters salivating to check out Brooklyn-based Matt & Kim. After what seemed like an eterntity of setup time due to the small broiling confines of the gallery, M & K were finally ready to bring it.

Matt & Kim’s energy-fueled feelgood dancepop is absolutely infectious.

This was my first time seeing Matt & Kim live, and I have to say that it was really really fun. I would describe their live sound as “clean and vibrant”. They play indie dance tunes that are ridiculously catchy and fun. Matt plays the synth and sings. Kim rocks out on the drums. It’s a very simple setup and it works ridiculously well. This minimalist approach makes it easy to folllow what’s going on. Make no mistake though, Matt & Kim’s pared down sound doesn’t mean you lose any energy with this equation. They can rock out like nobody’s business.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen the same band play twice in one night at two different venues. It was worth it.

One of the things that struck me is how much sheer fun they seem to be having playing music. Ricky mentioned this in his review of their SXSW appearance. Matt & Kim’s energy-fueled feelgood dancepop is absolutely infectious. They take you to a very happy place and keep you there for the entirety of their set.

This is a pretty accurate depiction of what their 2nd set felt like.

Matt & Kim (Wrongbar) - This is kind of how it felt!

We had so much fun seeing them at the Gallery that when 1 am approached we realized that we could go to Wrongbar and see them again. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the same band play twice in one night at two different venues. It was worth it.  This set, although similar to the first, was a notch up from their earlier performance. The venue was a little larger; Matt & Kim had more room to spread their legs. And at this point everyone had been partying all night and were ready to rock. Crowd-surfing began immediately and lasted the entire set. It was a ridiculous fun energy ride.

1 – Whippersnapper:

2 – Wronbgar:

NXNE Concert Review: Spiral Beach, Whippersnapper Gallery, June 19th

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, North By Northeast | Leave a comment

Spiral Beach

Toronto – Last Friday night found us at the Whippersnapper Gallery in the heart of Little Italy. It hadn’t occured to me that Taste of Little Italy was happening during NXNE, so College street was extra-packed. Opening the night at the Whippersnapper was Spiral Beach, a Toronto-based foursome that plays a collection of rock-pop songs.

The best part of this show was the enthusiasm that this young band brought to the table. They really enjoyed themselves up there and really got into it, and that energy was felt by the audience. They played loud and they played proud. Their brand of pop-rock does harken back to the B-52’s.

Their rock does have a gritty weirdness to it; the NXNE write-up defines their songs as “oddball pop songs” and I would agree. I saw elements of this that worked both for and against the band at different times in the set. Sometimes the long introspective weird avant-guarde shouted lyrics were really, uh, avant-guarde. On the other hand, there were a few moments where they transitioned very artfully between parts of the song where you don’t dance very hard to the part of the song where you dance very hard. That was done very well and got people dancing very hard.

NXNE Concert Review: Elephant Stone, Supermarket, June 18

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything, North By Northeast | 1 Comment

Toronto – I went to see Elephant Stone based on the fact that Vik liked them and also because they were named after a Stone Roses tune. The band consists of Rishi Dhir (of the High Dials) and some guys that may or may not be from the Besnard Lakes. Considering their nomination for the Polaris Prize, there might have been all of 50 people in a crowd, which is a shame since they put on a great show. Coming across as a mix between Cornershop and Kula Shakur (according to Patricia), the band played an impressive 45 minute set of what I think sounded like britpop, with eastern influences. This is good drug taking music, I think. There was even a sitar! Anytime you have something like a sitar at a show, it takes it up a notch. The band was also super chilled which suited nicely with the music vibe. I highly recommend you checking them out.