Published on June 30th, 2016 | by Stacey McLaughlin0
Metric hits Saskatoon for the Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival and makes the audience feel like they’re all one tight, intimate group of music loving friends.
Lead singer Emily Haines rollicked onto the stage with ferocity and wasted no time in wowing the eager crowd at this year’s SaskTel Jazz Festival. The band started strong and carried the energy through their entire 90 minute set. They were captivating and engaging, like meeting new friends that you strangely feel you’ve somehow known your whole life. One of the ways the band made themselves so personable was how they interacted with the crowd between songs. Haines actually apologized for missing Saskatoon on the stadium tour, but said that this festival was “our” time to really be together — and explained that she’d actually gone out in Saskatoon the night before even though it was raining, and asked if anyone was going out again this night because she was planning to. She addressed the crowd as if she was talking to each person one on one; now that is how you make a festival experience feel intimate.
The band focused more prominently on synth than they have in the past, featuring such tracks as ‘Youth Without Youth’ from 2012’s Synthetica album; and during the show-stopping ‘Too Bad So Sad,’ which saw the gentleman of the band donning smart light-up eyewear. Furthering this fantastic futuristic voyage, Haines dazzled the crowds by twirling a UV-reactive, gauzy white cape while she danced and sang the hypnotic song ‘Cascades’ from their 2015 album Pagans in Vegas. The attention to detail with these extra props added an extra dimension of wonder and excitement to the already dreamy, synth-pop vibe.
Despite this trend towards a more futuristic tone, there were still a lot of guitar-centric classics which provided room for guitarist player James Shaw, bassist Josh Winstead, and drummer Joules Scott-Key to shine. Later in the show they played ‘Gold Gun Girls’ from 2009’s Fantasies album, easily the most aggressive song of the night, and they amply demonstrated that they still know how to play great rock music. Then as the middle of their encore they did an acoustic set of their beloved hit ‘Gimme Sympathy,’ from that same album, to a roaring applause.
The purple and red heavy light show with accompanying black and white video complimented the band’s sensual, artistic, and energetic sound. The visuals never took away from the music; they only added to it. The addition of a dedicated camera crew was a brilliant move on the part of the festival coordinators this year; and the light choreography was spot-on. Coordinating stunning visuals with amazing music is a valuable part of why the Sasktel Jazz Festival is so cherished by those who attend it year after year.
While many participants seemed to anticipate rain again this year, it was nothing more than a gentle mist. At worst, if you forgot a raincoat you wouldn’t have been put out. At best, it was refreshing and revitalizing at the end of a beautiful day, and a wonderful show.
Metric attracted a diverse crowd with a wide age range, like the baby to my left who smiled ardently with arms outstretched as if she could reach the music and grab it with her chubby, adorable little fingers. Then there was the long-haired, bespectacled, young man to my right who unapologetically professed that this was his very favourite band. I even saw one of my English professors who quickly stopped to say cheers, before she ran off exclaiming how very excited she was for the show. There were families, groups of friends, individual people, couples, media types, security guards; and whether they were moving about, staking out a spot on the grass, or up front trying to get a good view, the one thing that they all had in common was that they were there to have a good time and enjoy some wonderful music. When the soft gentle waves of the last encore song ‘Breathing Underwater’ washed over the crowd, like the mist in the air, it was a fitting end to an incredible evening.
Photo courtesy of Adam Pulicicchio Photography. (Photo not from Saskatoon show).