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Concert Review: Metro station brings nostalgia but no new substance

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Mason Musso and Trace Cyrus of Metro Station pose after their show at the Show Case in Paris, France in 2009. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Mason Musso and Trace Cyrus of Metro Station pose after their show at the Show Case in Paris, France in 2009. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Metro Station brought a blast of nostalgia as Trace Cyrus and Mason Musso made for an exciting revival of the 2000s dance-pop sound Tuesday night at A&R Music Bar.

Before last night, I had seen Metro Station once before in 2008 with a crowd ten times the size of that of Tuesday’s Columbus show. It feels like a lifetime ago that music was in the midst of its scene Myspace phase characterized by big hair, angsty lyrics, and tattoo-ridden heartthrobs. The show had been spectacularly terrible, with Metro Station showing up 30 minutes late only to spend another 30 minutes soundchecking and drinking a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on stage. With this memory fresh in my mind, I headed to A&R Music Bar prepared for the worst.

Each of the opening acts — first, Plaid Brixx and second, The Strive — proved to be successively more impressive than the one before it. The third opener, angsty emo fusion band Palaye Royale, in particular, left the stage after a memorable and high octane performance that involved Keith Moon-esque theatrics from its lead singer.

As Metro Station finally took the stage, the excitement from the audience was palpable and flowed through the crowd like an electrical current. Still, I held back my expectations as I saw Cyrus enter the stage with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in his hand, serving as a cold reminder of the disappointment I had faced 8 years ago.

Metro Station opened up with “Seventeen Forever,” probably its most well-known song. The crowd’s enthusiasm soared as the entire throng of concertgoers sang the lyrics along with Musso. The drummer managed to perfectly capture the electronic drum beat of the studio version of the song, playing Metro Stations uptempo poppy beats effortlessly.

The band followed with “Married in Vegas,” a newer song off the 2015 album “Savior.”  The song was mostly forgettable, cut from the same cloth of its older material as Cyrus and Musso mused about childish feelings of love, loss and betrayal.

After losing the interest of a portion of the audience by playing the less familiar material, the band jumped into fan-favorite song “Kelsey,” a classic example of Metro Station’s teen angst-ridden synth-pop. Musso’s airy refrain as he sang “I’ll swim the ocean for you, the ocean for you, whoa, Kelsey” instantly sent a few of the girls in the front of the stage into a fit of the tears, and flooded me with a wave of nostalgia for my middle and high school years.

It occurred to me about halfway through the concert that the drum mics were too loud. The snare drum and crash symbols were making the vocals and higher synth layers virtually inaudible. At most concerts this would prove to be a massive problem, but part of Metro Station’s charm has always been its poor mixing levels and audio quality.

Their setlist was a mixture of old and new, as they would quickly segue between the familiar and the alien in an attempt to please the audience yet show off some newer tracks in an attempt to coerce fans into buying the newest album.

As the show wore on, I found myself tired and dissatisfied with the show. I had heard the songs played a hundred times before. However, where at one time my heart would jump with excitement from Metro Station’s emotionally fueled songs, I instead felt disinterest. Even Cyrus and Musso seemed tired, a hollowness in their voices as the excitement that defined the beginning of the set slowly dwindled down.

The best thing I can say about the concert is that it managed to help me relive my early teens in a way that only music can. From “Control” to “Wish We Were Older”, Metro Station played the songs that resonated directly with the confusing emotions and feelings of my adolescence. For those not seeking to relive old memories, however, I would not suggest Metro Station in concert. While the rest of its audience has grown up, Metro Station is still playing essentially simple songs with naive lyrics and the same mediocre musicianship that it has had since the first album 9 years ago.

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