Grimes at Electric Owl, Vancouver, Nov 17 2011
- review by Ria Nevada/photos by Krista Jahnke
Claire Boucher, better known to the world as electro-pop artist Grimes, returned to her hometown of Vancouver this week for a sensational performance at the Downtown Eastside’s Electric Owl. It was only the second headlining performance of her career (she’s supported fellow synth-driven acts like Lykke Li and Austra), so Grimes’ set was brief and slightly disorganized, but she sure packed a lot action into her 45 minutes on stage.
Upon entering the crowded venue, I became aware that this would be one of the most talked-about shows of the week for many reasons. Firstly, openers MYTHS were just wrapping up their set with screeching vocals and atonal synth solos that left half of the audience entranced, the other half rolling their eyes. A few knuckleheads from the latter category rudely started screaming “That’s not music!”, urging the techno-goth duo to get off the stage. Band members Quinne Rodgers and Lief Hall took the heckling in stride and finished their performance like pros.
Admittedly, their creative contributions are not for everyone. But love them or hate them, MYTHS leaves a lasting impression for marrying ideas of avant-garde art with pop. No one said music had to be straight-forward and simple. This group deserves credit for experimenting with the darker, uncomfortable and edgy side of the spectrum.
Grimes personally drew back the curtains to reveal her quirky and bubbly self to the already roused audience. She enthusiastically asked the sound engineers to pump up the volume as far as it would go before launching into “Oblivion”, a track that features a flurry of digitalized chimes, Euro-disco beats and Grimes’ airy and pinched vocals.
She was accompanied by Duffy, her trusty spiritual dancer, who was an incredibly entertaining (but often distracting) addition to her eccentric performance. Duffy’s lanky limbs shook and swerved to Grimes’ better-known track “Vanessa”, a number that quickly transports listeners to a lazy, hazy dream world. Boucher was light on her toes as well, and actually had to remove her heels so that she could move more freely on stage. Her floaty and spontaneous disposition encouraged some spirited female fans to prance around the stage with her. Grimes’ euphoria from completing her month-long tour was as infectious as her dance tracks.
The evening came to a close with one of the artist’s newer tracks, which she had never performed live. Enthusiastic and energetic, Grimes obviously wanted to keep the night going but, alas, her limited repertoire prevented her from doing so.
All would have ended on a high note for the young and optimistic artist but for one thing: one of Grimes’ spur of the moment back-up dancers decided to hijack the evening, airing her personal tragedies on stage. Word of advice to future concert-goers – friends don’t let friends drunken text or make belligerent PSA’s about teens overdosing on OxyContin on stage. There’s a time and place for everything, and what was supposed to be Grimes’ grand homecoming ended as a bit of a train wreck; the kind that you can’t tear your eyes away from.
More Grimes photos:
More MYTHS photos: