Last night I found myself at Rogers Arena, in a state of either wonderment or disbelief at just how far Stars and Metric have come in terms of fan following and popularity. Unlike the sparsely filled stadium that turned up for the High Flying Birds and Snow Patrol, the much lower ticket prices made this show attainable to a wide range of fans and as a result, the place was as packed if I was there to see Coldplay or U2. I could not be happier for these two bands, both originating in Toronto & founded in the late 90’s.
Since their formation in 2000, Stars have played in nearly every music venue this city has to offer. As the years roll on, their sound continues to evolve while the fervent energy they bring to their performances continues to enamor and astound me. To see them in an enormous arena was slightly surreal. Lead female vocalist Amy was pregnant last time they played Vancouver & although they have not been here since 2010, the band has hardly been slowing down. This past September they released their 6th full-length album “The North,” and album which highlights their continued transition from an electronic-pop sound to a more rock-based instrumentation. Albeit short, their 45 minute set was well balanced; offering fans a fantastic mix of newer and older material. They were clearly more than a mere opener last night- the crowd shouting their lyrics all around me and madly jumping along with lead male vocalist Torquil. By the end of their set, Rodgers was buzzing with an infectious and electrifying energy.
Psyched & primed, the stadium erupted with deafening applause and screams as Metric took the stage. Like Stars, Metric is classified as an Canadian indie rock group however, they are also commonly defined as “New Wave.” While the term “New Wave” actually originated in the late 70s, when this term is applied to more contemporary bands it tends to convey the band’s use of synthesizers, electronic productions as well as the more “artsy” or “quirky” nature of the musical styling that remains catchy and pop-based at heart. As such, there really is no better term that could be used to encapsulate or define Metric’s style.
Front woman Emily Haines sets Metric apart from the rest with so much more than her stunning vocal talent. At first glance, it is easy to be taken away by her beauty- her long legs, fabulous style and blonde punk rocker hair keep your eyes locked in her direction while her dancing gets you moving along with her. While I enjoyed the entire set, for me the show hit concert glory as it neared the end when they played Sick Muse, Dead Disco and Stadium Love in perfect succession to close out their set. The encore was also brilliantly executed with a high energy delivery of Monster Hospital and Gold Guns and Girls followed by a surprising acoustic finish of “Gimme Sympathy”.
While slowly making my way towards the exits, the full realization of just how many people had come out to see Stars and Metric finally sunk in and what an amazing thing to behold of two Canadian indie bands. With Gimmie Sympathy on repeat in my head, it seemed only natural that my friends and I would sing it aloud as we made our may to the bus or attempted to find that elusive vacant Vancouver cab. And now, as I reflect on this show, I can only give you this advice: if you are looking for a dance party, find out where either Stars or Metric is playing next and get yourself there. I can promise you this- they will not let you down. In fact, they are sure to leave you there begging for more.
Photos © Derek Robitaille