There is so much in life today that is uncertain, from the price of things to whether we’ll still have a democracy in a couple of years. Everything was up in the air before COVID, which only made things shakier in a whole new way. We need something we can rely on, something/someone that always delivers, and Metric once again did just that, closing out their ‘Doomscroller’ tour at Brooklyn Steel on Thursday, October 27th.
The second of two nights at Brooklyn Steel [note: photos are from the Wednesday show], the group was still exhilarated to be there, and the crowd was exhilarated to see them. Their first big tour since COVID, it was behind this year’s Formentera (QRO review), it was great to see the band in their element. And you could definitely see them, with a killer light show from the group & the venue (QRO venue review). Indeed, the lights didn’t just focus on front & center frontwoman extraordinaire Emily Haines, as justified as that would be, but saw her well-flanked by guitarist James Shaw and bassist Joshua Winstead, with drummer Joules Scott-Key elevated nicely behind Haines. They also used their light-up backdrop behind them well – when at one point there seemed to be a dead portion of the lights, it was later fixed.
The ‘Doomscroller’ night naturally started with that song, the epic opener to Formentera, but the new album didn’t have too heavy a hand in set list. Every act has a push-pull with regards to their older songs vs. newer, usually the artist preferring newer, but the crowd loving the oldies more. Metric nicely mixed and matched, such as going from “Doomscroller” to “Gold Gun Girls” (2009’s Fantasies – QRO review), where Haines got to strap on her guitar (always a highlight), or the Formentera slower, shining pair of the title track & “Enemies of the Ocean” going into just Haines & Shaw near-acoustic for Fantasies’ “Twilight Galaxy” and “Combat Baby” (2003 debut album Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?).
Between the two acoustic pieces, Haines thanked the crowd, and noted that the group started in New York – she & Shaw are from Toronto, and Metric did come up in the ‘Canadian Invasion’ of the aughts alongside contemporaries/friends Broken Social Scene (who had just played their own great two-night NYC set – QRO review). Haines specifically mentioned going past the old Brooklyn music venue/bar Black Betty, reminiscing that that was where they met Scott-Key. “End of the tour – nowhere I’d rather be…”
It’s natural to be most moved by the old songs that got you into an act in the first place, back when you were younger and easier to move. But in addition to going crazy for the likes of Old World’s “Dead Disco” or Fantasies’ “Sick Muse” & “Gimme Sympathy” going into the encore break, right before there were some great newer pieces, “Now or Never Now” from 2018’s Art of Doubt (QRO review) and the title track off of 2012’s Synthetica (QRO review), well-deserved as set list staples at this point.
Though with the mid-set acoustic portion, your correspondent was worried that there might not be an encore at all – he was very wrong, as Metric returned to the stage, and proceeded to play five more songs. Usually, an encore is one or two, maybe three, pieces, getting in one more classic hit the crowd wants and one more new song the band wants. Metric returned with Formentera’s “What Feels Like Eternity”, but nicely brought in everything from Doubt’s “Dressed to Suppress” (as electric a live staple as “Dead Disco” at this point) to “Monster Hospital” from 2005’s Live It Out. There was even “Black Sheep”, the band’s contribution to the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World soundtrack (QRO review), which has had a longer shelf-life than the underwhelming film. And the night ended with their Synthetica anthem “Breathing Underwater”.
We don’t know what the future brings, and there’s so much coming up to be scared about [as this was being written, Lula da Silva defeated President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, in a victory for democracy and the planet]. Find your joy where you can, where you know you can, like seeing Metric live.