Capital Music Hall is Ottawa’s newest live music venue, a somewhat cavernous, unfinished looking place that previously served as a dance club called, with admirable honesty, the Liquordome. The venue sits somewhere between the 500-capacity Barrymore’s (it’s the place that Guided by Voices and the Soundtrack of Our Lives played when they came through town) and the 2,000-seat Congress Centre, where major-label artists like Marilyn Manson have performed. It’s a fairly large place for an alternative band to perform, but a large crowd
came out to see Broken Social Scene and their sister band Metric, filling what was once the dance floor and most of the hall’s bottom level.

This was hardly surprising, since Broken Social Scene have been loudly championed by websites like Pitchfork and a won a Juno Award — the Canadian equivalent of the Grammies — as best alternative act of 2002. In other words, the band has had a very good year. But not it seems, good enough to continue performing live — this show was allegedly the group’s last.

The hall’s doors opened at 7 p.m. (it was an early show), but it was at least an hour and half before things got underway.

Opening act Metric’s music ranges from chilly dance music to New Wave frenzy ; they owe a heavy debt to New Order and Blondie. Their album is a hit or miss affair, but on stage the band’s stage presence fills in the emotional gaps. A heavier bass sound also added a dash of rhythmic propellant . Lead singer and keyboardist Emily Haines, wearing a quite short black dress, gestured, gaped, twirled and shimmied her way through most of the songs on the band’s debut. Their penultimate tune was 'Dead Disco', the most active number on
the album.

The drummer departed, the bass player arranged himself artfully over some amplifiers, Haines snugged up close behind guitarist James Shaw and they went out with a quieter, slower tune.

By the time Metric had cleared stuff away, things were definitely behind schedule ... a few crowd members began a slow clap as techies finished soundchecking the vast array of amplifiers, but gave up rousing applause as Broken Social Scene took the stage.

“This is our last show so it’s going to be loud” declared the band’s keyboardist- guitarist-vocalist, though the declaration either didn’t register on the crowd, or they didn’t care. The audience whooped in recognition at the first few bars of each song.

Vocally, the band is like Mercury Rev at a slightly lower pitch — and they certainly like to lay the echo on. Musically, they’re active, melancholic post rock ... then again, with the band’s predisposition to clenched fist salutes, rock-star scruffiness, guitar heroics, maybe they should be called post-arena rock. The membership on stage varied from the central six — usually playing three guitars, drums, bass and keyboards, sometimes abetted by a four-person brass section (three trumpets and a trombone — this is undoubtedly the only show I’ve been at where there’s applause for a trombone solo), plus occasional maraca shaking.

As the show came to a close, Emily Haines returned to the stage to add her vocals to songs like 'Looks Like Just The Sun' and culminating with an energetic version of 'Anthems for a Seventeen Year-old Girl', which sounds much better without the vocal manipulation on the album.

The audience was delighted at the performance throughout. The band’s keyboardist thanked the crowd, and reiterated that it was the group’s last show; I had another show to see that night, but as I headed out the door I could hear the band downshifting to a slow, sad song.

The bottom three photographs of Metric were all taken by Andrew Carver

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