Metric system

Jeremy Gordon

As Metric launched into the final minute of their packed set at Metro (3730 N. Clark St.) Sept. 25, a strange situation had begun to brew in the crowd.

Though the band had been on their game all night going through their catalogue of tight, high-energy synth rock, a few troublemakers had been irritating the rest of the concertgoers the entire night with excessive moshing.

With the music swelling to an epic finale, an inadvertent elbow was thrown into the face of a hoodie-wearing hipster, whose response was shoving the offender into a muscled attendee. The offender was thrown to the ground and a full-blown fight broke out. Metro security guards arrived in time to carry the blood-covered youth out of the crowd – just as the sound of Metric’s instruments died out and the band members exited offstage.

It was an intense show with an intense crowd, and as people filed out of the venue just a few minutes later, they were already buzzing about what a night it was. “We love Chicago,” bassist Joshua Winstead says. “It’s got a great music history.” Evidently, Chicago loves them as well.

On the last leg of a nationwide tour, Metric is eager to showcase their new material to fans as the band is getting ready to head to the studio to record their fourth full-length album, which has yet to be named.

While they throw out old favorites such as “Dead Disco” and “Monster Hospital” during their Metro set, they’ve been playing new, unrecorded songs that were penned on the road.

“We’ve written a bunch of songs and we’re bringing them out to the people,” Winstead says. Looking to refine the new batch of songs, he also adds, “We’re giving them a taste of what we’ve been doing in order to get some response back.”

An early album – entitled Grow Up and Blow Away – was released earlier this summer after being shelved since 1999. Though the album was recorded without Winstead or drummer Joules Scott-Key, the band still throws a few of its songs into the mix when performing live.

“We’ve been playing ‘Rock Me Now,’ and sometimes we’ll play ‘Soft Rock Star.'” Winstead says of the low-key synth-infused cuts from the album. “You think about the songs and see if it makes sense, and if it has a good flow. You just try to pay attention to what’s going on.”

Recently frontwoman Emily Haines embarked on her own to record a solo album, while Winstead and Scott-Key formed a side project of their own, Bang Lime. Haines and guitarist John Shaw are also affiliated with Broken Social Scene, a Canadian pop collective. Despite the band members’ different projects, Winstead insists that “Metric is definitely the priority.”

This would seem like a smart decision, as Metric has garnered critical acclaim since their 2003 debut Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? The band has been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize – Canada’s equivalent of the Best Album of the Year Grammy – while attracting a growing U.S. fanbase through the usage of songs in TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and CSI: Miami.

If the buzz surrounding the band swells, it would make the leap to a major label if it was the right thing to do, Winstead says. “We’d have to be allowed to keep doing what we do.” ?

Medill sophomore Jeremy Gordon is a PLAY writer. He can be reached at [email protected]