Live review: Ruby Suns at the Hi-Dive - Reverb

Ruby Suns at the Hi-Dive, 02-20-12 (review)

The Ruby Suns have hit a rough spot, which the band showed at the Hi-Dive on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the band's Facebook page.

The Ruby Suns have hit a rough spot, which the band showed at the Hi-Dive on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page.

By Erik Myers

Despite being successful enough to sign with Sub Pop, The Ruby Suns know despair. Halfway through their middling set at the Hi-Dive Wednesday night, gawky frontman Ryan McPhun introduced the melodic “In Real Life” as “a song about having to get a job, having to get one very soon because you’ve spent your 20s pursuing music. And you didn’t go to university, so you’re unemployable.”

As a young adult with a college degree, I’m not entirely convinced things are much better here on the bronze pedestal. But I know the value of a back-up plan. Here’s hoping McPhun isn’t making the same mistake this time around.

The Ruby Suns were friendly, making jokes about the wintery downpour outside that is alien to their native Auckland. They were also a little mischievous, the synth bassist losing his shirt during their closer’s full-throated psychedelic jam session. But as often was the case, whenever things got interesting, the performance slowly slouched back into routine. Their style of artless new wave would’ve been less dull and more annoying had McPhun’s intensely introspective lyrics been audible along the aggressive percussion and synth arpeggios.

This perspective can’t be summed up as a matter of personal taste since the crowd seemed equally bored. One fan harped the lackluster crowd: “Come on Denver, applaud!” Her friend interjected: “They don’t dance either.”

Clearly neither had arrived early enough for Tommy Metz’s opening set, which had the entire front section animated. It was as if Metz, a demure spectacled dude, was gifted with Cupid’s touch. As soon as he set his poppy electronica in mention, couples began dancing and openly making out. Metz was jamming as well, dropping to his knees occasionally to thrust his whole being to his hardnosed rhythms. The set’s best songs included an excellent hypnotic Iuengliss track and a long ebullient closer, hopefully a future single to be released under his new real-name persona. He might have had homefield advantage compared to the Suns, but Metz’s promising new material made him the evening’s easy highlight.

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Electronic blogger Erik Myers is a Denver-based writer and new contributor to Reverb. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter.