Emily Haines and Metric ready to be part of Stampede audience’s best night of the summer

Fan favourites and Canadian showstoppers, Metric, are set to take the Coca-Cola Stage Wednesday, July 10 for the Stampede’s annual lineup.

For Emily Haines, frontwoman, keyboardist and songwriter for the band, there is no one moment that she can isolate as her most memorable when looking back on her performances and time spent in Calgary, a place the group has invested a great deal of time.

“Let’s try to do a quick calculation of how many times we’ve played Calgary,” she laughs. “All I know is that we, in the early days, lived in a motel and just travelled between Calgary and Edmonton. The part of tour when we get to Alberta, because we’ve put in the time with fans there, it always has this sense of depth.”

The city has been lucky enough to host the band on more occasions than one can count on both hands and feet, but fans never grow tired of Metric. They’ve evolved and explored, but now, with Art of Doubt (Metric Music International, 2018), they’ve returned with full-throttle guitars and reclaimed their rock element.

James Shaw, guitarist and former producer for the group, has even been quoted as saying that Art of Doubt feels like it expresses the magic of their live show for the first time since Old World Underground, Where Are You Now (2003), making this a pretty important album in the band’s discography. 

Capturing that quintessential live experience sans lights, visuals and a crowd packed full of vibrant energy isn’t an easy task when you’re limited to a recording, but Art of Doubt satisfies that distinctive hunger — Haines emphasizes that Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s (Nine Inch Nails, Beck, M83) contributions in producing the record have been instrumental in reconnecting them to their roots.

“I’m not chasing some version of myself that’s going to suit everybody. I really feel that over time, even though we have been so exploratory in our sonics and our travels, what ends up being revealed is the essence of who we are,” Haines relates. 

Touring at this level, Metric is experienced playing shows that are not always your traditional ticketed experience. The Stampede being one of these, where fans may be outweighed by midway- or rodeo-goers, Haines says that understanding that context is key.

“It’s about understanding where we are. It’s a very different energy and tone (when playing to) people who are only there to see us. When we get invited to perform somewhere like the Stampede, we know we are participating in something that has a lot of history for the people in Calgary. We are a (small) part of the whole experience and people are out to have the best night of their summer, which we intend to give them.”

She adds, “For us, the definition of entertainment is to challenge people emotionally and get everyone to be present in the room, to have a real experience. This time will be no exception.”

We couldn’t help but ask if Haines plans on trying any of the crazy concoctions the midway has to offer — there’s pickle cotton candy, rainbow Oreos from funnel cake and even a squishy looking Octo Lolly for those adventurous enough — but she admits that the deep-fried and sugary treats aren’t the wisest choice on tour. 

“You can try to have an attitude of being easy-going, but the fact is that it’s a lot different being on the road trying to be consistent and take care of your body and voice. Unless there is some late-night need, the (chances of indulging in that) is very low. I like to take risks in other ways,” she says and laughs. 

Metric perform on the Coca-Cola Stage Wednesday, July 10. The show is free with paid admission onto the Stampede grounds.

Sarah Allen is a recent graduate of Mount Royal University’s Journalism program. She is an arts advocate and has taken a recent interest into Calgary’s blooming circus community. A self-proclaimed storyteller, her work focuses around photography, videography and written content.