Guest post from Ed Wheeler, New York City resident and life long music fan.
The thing about seeing an electronic music act live is that the expectation for the music to sound the same as the record. I used to pull this (admittedly lame) joke over instant messenger that went like this: “OMG Daft Punk got all their touring gear stolen!” and then link to a picture of a CD. I saw Purity Ring earlier in the year, and while it was still a great show (supporting an even stronger album, one of my top 3 released this year), there was little to no variation between how the group sounded live and how they sound on record. Grimes does not have that problem.
One of the things I like best about Grimes is how earnest and excited she appears while playing music and in interviews. Other sites remark about her ‘endearing awkwardness’ which seems an appropriate way to put it. This is clear in videos such as “Oblivion” where she waves a person to go in front of her while filming is going on. While walking on to the stage, Claire Boucher has a huge smile on her face and gives a little wave to the audience. The same happens again a little later on when a mistaken sound comes out of her sequencer, but she is so disarmingly charming that tiny mistakes like that only enhance the experience.
The most surprising aspect of the show was how BIG the sound was. Grimes’ albums (particularly her first 2, which were not represented at all in this show) evoke a sort of quiet, contemplative ambience, interspersed with dancier tunes. Every song played last night sounded like it was either a partial or complete remix, which makes me think that Grimes has a promising career as a producer ahead of her, when she feels like retiring from her own projects (which hopefully won’t be for a very long time). There were the fully formed songs, including most of her latest, Visions, and happily, my favorite song from Grimes split EP with d’Eon (Darkbloom) Vanessa. Sadly, no Crystal Ball, but the rest of the set was packed with all of her top songs. The biggest cheers from the audience came for Oblivion, Genesis, and surprising to me, Be A Body. In between the songs, however, were little pieces of not quite yet full songs, which made the night for me. From these pieces, you can hear the sound and direction Claire might take Grimes in the future.
At the end of the show, Claire explained that she didn’t really like to do encores in that she wants her shows to have a more ‘continuous experience’, which is understandable, as I am not a fan of encores either. She finished her set with a song produced by Blood Diamonds, “Phone Sex“. As she was leaving the stage, Claire awkwardly and endearingly wished us all a good weekend (‘if we are near the weekend?’, which we were) and did a little bow before running up the stairs and off the stage.