Last Night: Deck the Hall Ball Gets Some Wrong, a Lot Right With Muse, Metric, and Vampire Weekend

Justin Dylan Renney
Metric, featuring Emily Haines, played The End's Deck the Hall Ball on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the WaMu Theater. Watch a slideshow featuring Muse, Vampire Weekend, and rest of the night's bill.
Review By Nick Feldman

As the biggest and best of local radio's holiday parties--though the condom-doling Santa would make a strong argument that this one is Christmas-leaning--107.7 The End's Deck The Hall Ball had big expectations to satisfy after announcing their lineup in early November. With one major exception, the show did exactly that.

Vampire Weekend: I ran into WaMu Theater just in time to catch Vampire Weekend tear into "A-Punk" and by no fault of their own I could instantly tell that the cold, cavernous warehouse space wasn't a good home. I always imagined seeing them in some sunny outdoor venue (Sasquatch!, ahem). Despite the odds stacked against them--not least of which being the painfully short 20-minute set--the Ivy League boys played with heart, and the crowd loved them for it.

Phoenix: Even if the bass was turned a little high and the vocals a little low, when Phoenix started into "Lisztomania" as their opening number I immediately felt just as euphoric as I do when the French outfit's music comes pouring out of my speakers. Luckily the too-short set wasted no time but simultaneously avoided feeling rushed. Playing tracks exclusively from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Mozart--one of my favorite albums of 2009--the set wrapped perfectly with smash hit "1901" as frontman Thomas Mars dove into the crowd and swam out to wish their sound engineer a happy birthday.

Metric: Emily Haines and her barely-there, silver sequined miniskirt rocked out hard--as did the rest of Metric. I have to give guitarist James Shaw a fair shake; his riffs and solo work were unquestionably impressive and energetic. But Haines stole the show with her hopping stage antics and occasional snarls, ending the band's tour with a bang.

30 Seconds to Mars: There are many things to be said about second-billed 30 Seconds To Mars, and few of them good. Watching an exodus of early-show spectators being replaced by black-clad teens was symbolic, and made very clear the fact that this act's fans were not the same as any of the night's others. At best, the performance was a relatively unexciting display of Jared Leto's attempted rock showmanship; at worst, it was a downright boring travesty that raised the question why they were slotted as long as both Vampire Weekend and Phoenix combined.

Muse: What kept me there through it, of course, was the promise of Muse. This is a band that, though they were playing at venues as small as Neumos just five years ago, was made for WaMu--and one that can actually fill the venue, in pure atmosphere and unadulterated rock 'n' roll as well as fans. Matthew Bellamy's guitar work was wild, whether playing on his knees or above his head, and the set's lighting went from violent strobes to smoky baths of turquoise in an instant. It was a perfect teaser for Muse's April 2 Key Arena return. It was what people came to see, and it didn't disappoint.

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