Emily Haines is a way better dancer than you. The impossibly cool front woman for Metric – born in India, the daughter of a famous Canadian poet, lived in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn loft way before it was cool to do so – glitters on stage like a disco ball. And it’s not just her light-reflecting jacket.
In Nashville on Wednesday night, the band opened with “Black Sheep,” the song featured on the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie soundtrack, for which Haines served as sort of a muse for the character Envy Adams.
By the time the band launched into “Help I’m Alive,” Haines was doing her best to get the crowd going, coming out to the front of the stage and cooing seductively, “Nashvillllllle. Yeah, yeah.”
With a thick delay on her vocal throughout the show, and with her sweaty blond hair hanging in her eyes, Haines was Metric’s not-so-secret weapon. When she wasn’t dancing stylishly across the stage, she handled most of the atmospheric electronics and played cool synth lines.
The throbbing bass and drums also sounded great in the Ballroom – crisp and crushing like good French house music.
Haines picked up an electric guitar for “Gold Guns Girls,” though Jimmy Shaw’s lead work on the driving, motorik riff was the highlight, complete with a spastic, delay-heavy guitar finale. “All the gold and the guns and the girls couldn’t get you off,” Haines sang. “Is it ever gonna be enough?” she added rhetorically as everyone in the Ballroom got off on the anthem.
“Sorry it took us so long to get here. We were dying to get here,” Haines told the crowd before launching into the set-closing fist pumper “Stadium Love.”
After coming back for the full band encore “Monster Hospital,” drummer Joules Scott-Key and bassist Josh Winstead exited the stage, leaving Metric’s founding members alone for a final encore, a stripped-down rendition of “Combat Baby.” “Do you want to hear a sad song?” Haines offered, before delivering her smoky-jazz vocal, set against Shaw’s minimal acoustic rhythm.
After a rousing applause and the final crescendo on “Combat Baby,” Scott-Key and Winstead reemerged. And like four polite Canadians (or Canadian converts), Metric took a stage bow and were gone.