The night started out on the wrong foot. I missed the two opening bands, and then was told that earlier in the evening, a member of Metric was pissed at the headline used in The Reader story (He didn’t understand why the media keeps getting hung up on the whole “metric system” thing… it might have something to do with the fact that the band is named Metric). Apparently the same Metrician was overheard making a colorful comment about our fair city. “We went downtown this afternoon. Sucks!” I guess when you’re from Toronto, Omaha’s Old Market is going to be somewhat lacking. Hey, you know what? It’s all we got. So whatever love I had for the band was slightly tarnished by the time they took the stage at around 11. Despite all the hostility, I gotta admit that they put on a pretty good show. If you read their one-sheet you’d think they were symbiotically tied to Goo-era Sonic Youth (In fact, their soundguy played “Kool Thing” over the PA right before their set), but the way they were mixed last night, they seem more like descendants of Depeche Mode or The Cure. The kick-drum was so amped that you could feel the thump-thump-thump shake your insides to Jello — it was huge. So huge that it overpowered the rest of the mix. Instead of an experimental noise rock band, Metric has turned itself into an electro-clash dance band, someone you might hear opening for The Faint. A number of songs started off subtly, pretty, toned with edgy keys or echoing guitar, but once the drums came in, all you got was THUMP-THUMP-THUMP. If you were there to dance, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it killed Jimmy Shaw’s gorgeous, shimmering guitar lines and overpowered pretty Emily Haines’ too-thin vocals. A few times they reached some sort of equilibrium (or maybe I just channeled out the kick drum) and created an unstoppable dance vibe. Shame that so few people in the crowd picked up on it (Come on, we all know that nobody dances in Nebraska!). The 150 or so in the crowd did what they usually do — stood and stared as Haines and bassist Josh Winstead tried to get their groove going. They didn’t succeed until the encore — the two best songs of the set, neither of them recognizable from the new CD. Ten minutes into the last song, during a killer guitar solo drenched in reverb, Haines coaxed part of the crowd on stage. It wasn’t easy, in fact she had to ask three or four times and practically drag them up. After the first couple got up there, though, 20 or so more slowly came up and did their thing with the band. I have no doubt that Metric could easily jump to the next level if they got on the right tour (Yeah, they would be perfect opening for The Faint). Instead, they may be satisfied playing their string of sold-out Canadian shows scheduled through the end of October. Something tells me the downtown scene is cooler in Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon.
I mentioned to a couple people last night that I’m probably going to pass on the sold-out Decemberists show at Sokol Underground and head to Swords at O’Leaver’s. No one’s heard of the Portland-based six-piece, apparently, though their new CD, Metropolis, on Arena Rock Records has gotten accolades from The Boston Globe, Magnet and Time Out New York, among others. I dig it. Fred Mills from Magnet called it “chamber music for post-rockers” and that sums it up well. The title track, for instance, reminds me of brooding early Genesis with vocals as light and airy as Lindsay Buckingham’s. They have a big sound, maybe too big for O’Leaver’s. We’ll find out tonight. They are not the headliners — apparently Dios Malos is. Trying to figure out something about that band, I got totally confused and lost on their website. I did find the Startime Records site, where you can download their cover of Beck’s “Asshole.” Nice. $5, 9:30.
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