Death Cab for Cutie and Metric partner up live

Vancouver sees the last night of the co-headlined Lights On the Horizon tour

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Photo by JOSHUA PETER GRAFSTEIN

The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre was packed as Vancouverites and visitors alike flooded the arena in fresh spring attire. Death Cab for Cutie took the stage pre-Metric, cutting in deep with Ben Gibbard’s flawless voice and oftentimes-frantic energy. Beginning with highly emotive songs like “The Ghost of Beverly Drive” and “Little Wanderer”, the group embodied each piano rock ballad they threw themselves into. Venues like the Thunderbird Centre are great for accommodating the masses, but hindering to the passion of the music—Death Cab was enthralling but the unmoving vibe of the floor’s audience took away from the performance. Still the band did not feed off of onlookers but rather engulfed themselves in their own enjoyment of the lyrics and instrumentals.  

Gibbard’s surge into “I Will Possess Your Heart” was lovely and hard-hitting. Early fans of Death Cab and those who remember hits of the 90s were pleased to hear the group give a shout out to former big brother band Seattle’s Harvey Danger. It was in 1998 when the group first performed in Vancouver as Death Cab for Cutie while opening for Harvey Danger; in light of bassist Aaron Huffman’s recent passing on March 6th of respiratory failure, the Death Cab boys paid a touching tribute to him with a rendition of “Why I’m Lonely”.

The last night of the Metric and Death Cab for Cutie co-headlined part of the Lights On the Horizon tour, Friday had both bands in fine form. Emily Haines took the stage in head to toe leather, often picking up a tambourine and sporting Stevie Nicks-esque capes. Like Gibbard, Haines’ voice is exactly how it is on Metric’s numerous records, and the bands’ longevity and careers do mirror each other in a way. Both groups originated at around the same time and have had a lasting effect on audiences. While Death Cab is more dark alt-rock and Metric is full-blown synth-pop rock, the groups complemented each other respectively. That being said, it is Death Cab’s heart-wrenching lyricism and feeling rather than reliance on props that proves exemplary musicianship. Early highlights on Friday night for Metric included “Help I’m Alive” and “Youth Without Youth”—driven full force ahead by Haines’ fun stage presence. Haines, a synth-playing beauty in florescent lighting and a sheer neon green wind-born cape definitely looked like an old pro up there belting out lines about monsters and artificial nocturnes.

The big surprise of the night was when Haines welcomed Vancouver’s own David Suzuki on stage to speak about renewable energy. After she informed the audience that one dollar of each concert ticket sold that night would go to the David Suzuki Foundation, Suzuki remarked, “The revolution is happening, we’re out of fossil fuels and into renewable energy. [We must] transcend being oppressed by a future that doesn’t exist.”

Haines then led Suzuki, a group of concertgoers that had been invited on-stage and the audience in singing Metric’s “Dreams So Real”, and the whole experience was very, very Canadian. “It’s been a long tour and the world is full of parking lots,” said Haines.

Bringing the concert to a close “Sick Muse”, “Breathing Underwater” and giant disco ball and a fog filled stage, Metric was a light entertaining way to kick off spring in Vancouver. We can only hope Death Cab for Cutie comes back for a full headlining show soon.