It was a tale of two shows when Canadian indie heroes, Metric, and Mexico City alternative act, Zoé, converged on the Revention Music Center on Thursday night.
Billed as co-headliners, it was question of whether Zoé was big enough to deserve that status with an established act that only recently opened for Smashing Pumpkins at Toyota Center last summer. But Latino music fans showed up en masse for the Mexican band that just picked up a Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for their 2018 release Aztlan.
The group from south of the border delivered a set of spaced out synth and new wave rock, which included several singalongs from the adoring crowd.
But as soon as Zoé finished a lot of the bands’ fans left, and it was too bad — they missed a great show. Then again, many of them, some who had never heard of Metric, stuck around to see an act that sounded very much like the one they just saw. Kudos goes to the promoter of this tour for thinking outside the box and helping both bands pick up some new fans.
As for the Metric, the Toronto quartet is a proven musical entity, touring their seventh album, Art of Doubt. It’s one of their best, a perfect mix of their earlier guitar-forward rock with the synth direction of their later work. The album featured heavily throughout the night, including three of the first four songs of the set, opening with “Love You Back.”
In fact, Metric’s first two releases, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? and Live it Out were largely ignored, with only fan favorite “Dead Disco” making the cut, but only after Haines got the crowd to vote for that or another great Old World… song, “Combat Baby.” Die-hard fans probably left a little disappointed that two vital albums in the Metric catalog got little love, but as Haines alluded to before the song, Metric simply is a different band from the one they were 15 years ago.
The songs the band did play, the majority from breakthrough 2009 album Fantasies, its follow-up, Synthetica, and Art of Doubt sounded fantastic, the performance of the very tight group getting stronger as it went along. Captivating-as-always frontwoman Emily Haines, dressed in what looked like a bedazzled bra and leather jacket, looked as spry as ever, pogo-dancing throughout the night, her vocals never sounding better. Her bandmates, guitarist Jimmy Shaw, bassist Josh Winstead, and drummer Joules Scott-Key, the latter two native Texans, gave a workman-like performance.
Highlights of the set included the pounding “Black Sheep,” a song that has become a live favorite despite never being released on a Metric album, rather finding fans through the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, in which future Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson played a rock star inspired by Haines. Main set closer, Fantasies’ “Gold Gun Girls,” showed why it was their biggest radio hit. Meanwhile, “Stadium Love,” from that same record, sounded as huge as its name implies, and encore selections, “Dark Saturday” from Art of Doubt and “Help I’m Alive” off Fantasies, got the crowd moving and shaking.
Always consummate pros, Metric showed why they belong in mid-to-large theaters. And if there was any justice, they’d be filling even bigger venues. Their live chops simply make them one of the best bands working today. A nice surprise in Zoé — unless you’re a Latin rock fan — made it a more than entertaining Thursday night in downtown Houston.
“Love You Back”
“Dressed to Suppress”
“Art of Doubt”
“No Lights on the Horizon”
“Gold Guns Girls”
“Now or Never Now”
“Help, I’m Alive”