As soon as Stars’ Torquil Campbell pulled out his melodica on Friday night, one of the guys in front of me got up from his seat, raised his two beers to the ceiling and let out a full-throated “Woo!”
Thinking to when I first started listening to Metric and Stars, the Brandt Centre wouldn’t be the first place I would have expected to see them play. The idea of Regina coming out in large numbers to see the little independent band that could didn’t seem to be a possibility. I never could’ve guessed either of the Toronto-originated bands to be the type of act that would draw a noticeable number of young people with parental chaperones out to a show, dads asking their kids to text mom to let her know they got to the show all right.
But that’s where Metric is at these days, even if they weren’t selling the place out by any means. If you were following prairie dog’s Twitter account, you may have seen talk of underwhelming turnout. For the record, the floor seemed full enough and the bottom bowl was reasonably populated.
More importantly for me, Metric felt like the kind of band that should be playing a place of that magnitude.
Stars were a big part of the value proposition for this tour, offering two venerable Canadian indie-rock acts for a reasonable price at the door. They just played Regina for the Regina Folk Festival this summer, but presented a slicker, more upbeat set here. For their fourth song of the night, “Ageless Beauty”, they started lighting up a series of disco balls on the stage, a pretty sight for a very pretty song. They stayed faithful to the recorded versions of the songs, except when Campbell gave a Fred Schneider-like speak-singing intro to “Take Me to the Riot”.
Metric show by now is a huge production with a big light show accompanying every song. I noticed one large light burnt out, which probably frustrated a roadie somewhere to no end. The aim of the live show was definitely as big as the band’s aim for their latest record, Synthetica. Singer Emily Haines is constantly trying to craft huge music out of her perpetual insecurities and those anthems fill up arenas well these days. I’m not sure that Metric every really played that was best served by a small club, but more and more, they’re aiming to give their songs a larger-than-life quality, suitable to a venue larger than your average hall.
A lot of material got played off of Synthetica and its predecessor, Fantasies. They played a few selections off older albums, like “Dead Disco” and “Empty”, that really had the band jamming out. Not my favourite mode of Metric, but they kept “Dead Disco” to seven minutes or so at least.
The show ended with guitarist Jimmy Shaw on acoustic and Haines singing “Gimme Sympathy” to close out a five song encore, a song that’s in part about reaching for rock ‘n’ roll greatness. It felt like they were in the right place for that.