As one of the preeminent media platforms in Los Angeles, KCRW does not lend its name lightly. Throughout a little over 100 shows, legendary artists such as John Legend, Norah Jones and Beck have graced the stage within the prestigious Apogee Studio in Santa Monica, California throughout the years. Despite hosting a maximum of 180 people within the legendary studio, the intimate setting does not cheapen its effect on the audience. It is still the Apogee Session, and KCRW still has a reputation to uphold.
Luckily this setting worked well for Metric, a veteran indie band coming off of their seventh album release Art of Doubt late last year. While a majority of their show on Friday, March 8, focused on this latest release, they still took the time to perform classics for their audience such as “Breathing Underwater” and “Gimme Sympathy.”
KCRW’s music director Jason Bentley opened up the show in his usual manner, thanking the studio’s hosts Betty Bennet and Bob Clearmountain. Bentley also mentioned that the old KCRW studio wrapped up its last Morning is Eclectic Program and that the station had moved to a new location a quarter mile away from Apogee Studios. The legendary Morning is Eclectic program will continue however, in the new studio.
After Bentley’s introduction Metric began their set with “Dressed to Suppress,” which had the crowd mildly grooving along with the track. This continued into their next track “Risk,” as the audience became enthralled with lead vocalist’s Emily Haines’ stage presence. Their next track, however, “Breathing Underwater,” drew a large amount of energy from the crowd who began to cheer and sing along with the Synthetica track. Afterward, the band closed out the first half of their set with the title track “Art of Doubt” and the album closer “No Lights on the Horizon.”
After a brief intermission, Bentley held a small interview with Haines and the band’s guitarist James “Jimmy” Shaw, who helped produce much of the band’s discography before Art of Doubt. During the interview, Shaw explained that much of the band’s later work veered away from guitars, due to his focus on production, which is why albums such as 2015’s Pagans in Vegas featured no guitars at all. For this latest effort, the group reached out to Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who has worked with legendary acts such as M83, Nine Inch Nails and Beck for this effort.
Haines explained that bringing in Johnsen helped put the band into a place which helped their overall sound. She described their style as a marriage of synths and guitars, where indie rock and electronic music reach an equilibrium, which was present on many of their previous albums before Pagans in Vegas. Art of Doubt, for them, is going back to the band’s roots, which is why part of it was recorded in their native Toronto, before Johnsen, who was fed up with Canadian weather during January and February, took the band to finish the project in Los Angeles.
The band went right into the classics after the interview performing “Dead Disco” from their debut album, gaining a huge reaction from the crowd who cheered and bounced along with the song. “Gimme Sympathy,” followed right after as the band continued to ride a wave of high energy, and some of the audience members began passionately chanting along with the song. They then went into “Seven Rules” and “Dark Saturday,” off of the latest release, as the crowd began to mellow down from the high energy of their classic tracks. Their closer “Now or Never Now” served as a satisfying conclusion, as the crowd cheered on Haines’ electrifying presence to its final moments.
During the performance, Haines pointed out a slight error the band had made while performing “Risk”–the synth she was using was programmed a little incorrectly. The audience did not notice, however, leading her to call the incident, along with the band’s mantra “perfect imperfections.” This performance would fit that mantra, despite how curated and planned out the band’s electronic backings seem, their rock and roll energy contributes something raw and imperfect. The coordinated world of synths meshing perfectly with the brashness and raw energy of guitar are what make Metric one of the most unique indie performers today.
Photo Credit: Ekaterina Gorbacheva