Metric, Zoé, and July Talk performed a sold-out show at the Tabernacle Feb. 24, 2019. As I walked up to the venue nestled in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park one of the security workers seemed overwhelmed by the number of people speaking Spanish. They came to see Zoé, a Grammy Award-winning Mexican rock band.
Out of the lineup, I was only familiar with Metric, a Canadian rock band formed in 1998. Their female-fronted indie electronica anthems perfectly matched the tone of my angsty twenties some ten years ago. I hadn’t kept up with them over the years, regretfully, so I built a playlist of their most recent set-list to prepare myself for the concert. I expected pangs of nostalgia, dance hits, and new material to bop along to. It was sure to be a good night. What I hadn’t anticipated was the cultural intersection that took place in the old church turned music venue.
July Talk, a Canadian alternative rock band kicked off the show right on time. Peter Dreimanis’ raspy Nick Cave-esque vocals paired well with Leah Fay’s melodic vocal style. July Talk’s stage presence was electric.
Up next was Zoé. To call Metric the headliner and Zoé an opener would be an injustice. If anything, it would be more appropriate to call them duel-headliners or co-headliners. Zoé wasn’t a preview before a movie. This was a double feature.
First, consider the numbers. The audience was equally split between those who had come primarily to see Zoé and those for Metric. The shift of bodies in between Zoé’s set and Metric’s set was remarkable. The multitudes up front that sang along to every word with Zoé shifted back to allow Metric followers to make their way forward. Even in the balconies, the fans that stood and danced for Zoé’s entire set relocated when Metric came on.
Second, consider the timing. Zoé played for nearly an hour and a half, as did Metric.
Third, consider the energy. Only one word comes to mind to sum up Zoé’s audience: Passion. This was a celebration. They cheered raucously between songs, and rightfully so. Zoé put on a hell of a show. In spite of not comprehending the Spanish lyrics, I had to dance along to the music. They somehow reminded me of the Cure (think Disintegration), the Killers, with maybe a little Coldplay splashed in. Singer León Larregui stayed engaged with the fans, periodically holding the Mic stand out to catch their voices or reaching to touch their outstretched hands.
Metric brought the heat as well but the audience was considerably more reserved. Emily Haines of Metric was a powerhouse. She danced tirelessly and sang without missing a note. In between songs she offered backstory on how certain songs “lived in her soul.” She gave the context for songs from previous years and explained where she had been emotionally when they were created and how you have to “hold on to that purity, that optimism, even when you need to be realistic.” Metric’s set contained tracks spanning their seven-album history. At one point the audience got to vote between two throwbacks. “Dead Disco” won out over “Combat Baby.” Sometimes there are studio bands, and there are live bands, I would definitely classify Metric as both. As much as I love their albums, their live performance was every bit as fulfilling.
During a Metric song I was less familiar with, I took the opportunity to get some fresh air. As I stepped out onto the patio under the SkyView Ferris Wheel everyone around me spoke Spanish. It transported me to the little time I spent in Europe. I marveled in the feeling.
Music bridged the gap from Canada to Mexico at the Tabernacle that night. We were unified by the urge to hear our favorite songs. Our anthems all merged in a crescendo of peaceful coexistence. Nah strike that, we did more than coexist, we all thrived together. With all the divisiveness of the current political climate, we should hold more events like this. Get rid of the space between, shake off the us and them mentality, create the we that we need.
If you are lucky enough to be near one of the next stops on the Art of Doubt tour, grab your tickets here, and go!
Photos by Soon Mac Kweon for Bullet Music