In the 3+ years since I saw Metric at The Fox Theater, the group has made an appearance at Coachella 2013 and released album number six, last year’s Pagans in Vegas, an effort that dives wholeheartedly down the super-synthy rabbit hole that 2012’s Synthetica merrily frolicked around in. The band’s high-energy live shows have already made them an arena-filling phenomenon in their native Canada, and Angelenos seem to be taking more and more notice of Metric with every subsequent tour.

Joining Metric on their Pagans in Vegas tour were Rochesterians Joywave, whom I’ve been keeping an eye on ever since their track “Tongues” first tickled my eardrums in 2013. The group shot to mainstream prominence with their infectiously catchy Big Data collaboration, “Dangerous,” and they’ve continued to steadily contribute to their growing fanbase with last year’s release of their confident debut album, How Do You Feel Now?

Joywave

Joywave took the stage with that same confidence, particularly frontman Daniel Armbruster. When he wasn’t sing-strutting on stage, he was regaling a tough crowd with dryly witty anecdotes in between songs. Although receptions for opening acts generally trend on the tepid side in LA, Joywave’s was anything but. By the time the opening bars of “Somebody New” played in The Hollywood Palladium, the now-sizable audience had been won over. 

As for Metric, I have to start by giving mad props to whoever their lighting/stage director is because their set was one hell of a spectacle. From lead vocalist Emily Haines’s glowing cape fluttering around amidst the synthy grooves of “Cascades” to the perfectly timed spotlight undulations in “Black Sheep,” this was by far the most visually sumptuous performance I’ve seen from the group.

Of course, all that wouldn’t mean jack if the band didn’t have the musical chops to match the visuals, but per usual, Metric was on point.

Their choice of opener “IOU” is more than a little weird on paper. It’s not a single, and it’s off Metric’s comparatively obscure debut release, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?. And yet despite the fact that no one in my vicinity was singing along as faithfully as they would be for the track that was to succeed it (“Help I’m Alive”), the crowd was swept away nonetheless by the song’s grinding guitar riffs courtesy of the very talented James Shaw.

Metric

The secret sauce that makes every Metric live show I’ve seen so engaging lies in the group’s knack for pacing. The bulk of the band’s catalogue comprises high-octane, dance-slash-rock numbers à la Synthetica’s “Youth Without Youth” or Fantasies’ “Gold Guns Girls.”

Naturally those play well in live settings, but interspersed throughout Metric’s sets are magical downtempo moments such as the achingly emotional “Collect Call” or a stripped-down, acoustic rendition of “Gimme Sympathy.” Oh, and closing with “Breathing Underwater?” Yeah, that was an excellent call.

Adding to the overall awesomeness of Metric’s performance is Haines’ energetic magnetism. I know you’re supposed to pay attention to all members of any given band, but — and I say this as a straight woman — it’s really hard not to stare at her.

On stage, she oozes confidence out of every pore to the extent that she and her band make playing a 22-song set look effortless even though I know it’s a skill they’ve honed over the course of six albums and all the corresponding tours/festival appearances that have resulted from those releases.

Although I was fortunate enough to have already seen Metric prior to last Friday’s show, I’m happy to report that I had vastly underestimated their ability to wow me this time around. Consider me thoroughly wowed.

Metric

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