Metric/Joan As Policewoman/Holly Miranda
August 5, 2010
Metric lead singer Emily Haines, sporting her usual brushed-forward, spikey, shoulder-length blond hair, introduced the song “Stadium Love” last night by comparing the venue, Prospect Park, to a stadium. “Prospect Park Stadium,” she said, then corrected herself. “Nay, it is not a stadium… it is Prospect Park, and we have Prospect Park love.” The odd thing is that given the band’s presence, the park did feel like a stadium, which it hadn’t just thirty minutes before. Joan As Policewoman’s set of bluesy pop, excellent in its own right, featuring a few new songs, a cover of Public Enemy’s “She Watches Channel Zero” and material from 2007’s Real Life, gave way to Metric’s supercharged strobe lighting, at least a dozen more photographers angling for portraits of the photogenic Haines, and fans who poured in by the hundreds, pushing their way down the aisles to lean against fences or, if they were lucky, party in the pit with the photographers and other VIPs.
I’m guessing Haines feels ambivalent about stadiums. Metric’s sharp, observant music leaves little room for warm and fuzzy sentiments about the music industry, politics or even romance. In its place are wry and heartstring-tugging narratives about breakups, death, and the politics of the Bush era. “Monster Hospital” transforms Bobby Fuller’s refrain, “I fought the law / but the law won” into “I fought the war / but the war won” and builds to a dramatic Metric breakdown: “I fought the war / but the war won’t stop / for the love of god.” The title “Help I’m Alive” is enough indication of the band’s dark wit. But after performing that song, Haines took a moment to say it’s “a great time to be alive”—that “something good” was going to come out of the present day. “I don’t know what it is,” she said, but she hoped they’d be part of it. Later, an orange ball floated onstage, interrupting the good vibe. “Oh, look, a sponsored beach ball.”
Wednesday’s overturning of Prop 8 brought a new surge of optimism to the night’s event, evidenced most clearly during Holly Miranda’s performance. Miranda, who grew up singing in church and unleashes a kind of voice-within-a-voice onstage—a treat for anyone who’s only heard the odd mp3—was joined by a modest brass section and at one point a quartet of bell-jangling women. Playing material from her debut The Magician’s Private Library and throwing in her rather breathtaking cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Be Blind,” Miranda eventually brought out a bunch of friends out to sing backup on a song she wrote about Prop 8. “This is the first time we can sing it joyously,” she said. Joan As Policewoman followed suit, dedicating “Hard White Wall” to “all our friends who are facing this”—she made a wall shape with her hands—“this wall.”
Emily Haines wasn’t sure what might be going through the minds of her audience, an adoring, bouncy crowd with every lyric memorized. So for the final encore, “Combat Baby,” she suggested a few options. She and guitarist James Shaw, her former flame, ambled around the stage and asked for vocal help from down below. “Sing along if you know the words. If you don’t, lie down, or plan ahead, or forget something you want to forget.”
Joan as Police Woman