Review and photos–Let’s Eat Grandma at Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver, Aug 30 2018
– review by Karina Espinosa/photos by Kirk Chantraine
Within the industrial architecture of Fortune Sound Club, an unexpected warmth greeted concertgoers. This had less to do with the late summer weather than with Let’s Eat Grandma, the synth-pop duo bent on creating eccentric music. It was clear that band members Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollington, both 19, were still finding their footing as live musicians. And yet, the two childhood friends put on a fun, uplifting show that charmed even their oldest fans in the audience.
Fresh from releasing their sophomore album, I’m All Ears, the Norwich-based duo is currently on a North American tour. For their Vancouver gig, the two girls were almost identically dressed in black, with their dark tresses obscuring their faces. Although a bit shy as they walked onstage, they seemed to relax once they settled in front of their keyboards. Without delay they dove into the album’s lead single, “Hot Pink.” It’s reminiscent of Charlie XCX pop, complete with an anthemic chorus and traces of abrasive, UK grime. Another popular number, “It’s Not Just Me,” followed a more conventional pop formula. Midway through the song, Walton grabbed her microphone from its stand and strutted across the stage. With limbs outstretched, she sang with all the confidence of a high school girl lip-synching in front of her bedroom mirror.
It isn’t immediately obvious, but the duo prides itself on creating weird music. Their band recalls the sounds of Joanna Newsom, SOPHIE, and Grimes, infusing childlike vocals with darker synth tones. This was most evident during their performance of “Donnie Darko”. Named after the quintessential (if clichĂ©d) cult movie about teen angst, the 12-minute long epic made the most of the duo’s flair for the dramatic. With an overt wink, Hollingworth brought out a plastic recorder and played some muted notes. Walton added her own twist by incorporating some jagged guitar noises. At the start of the number, the girls lay down perfectly still on the floor. But by the energetic climax, Hollingworth jumped from the stage and ran through the audience with arms in the air.
Even weirder than Let’s Eat Grandma’s music were the fans in attendance. Contrary to the band’s image, most people in the crowd weren’t fledgling girls, just old enough to get into the 19+ show. Rather, the venue was full of large, bearded, late 20, 30, and even 40-somethings. Weirder still was when a few of these grown men sang along to songs like “Falling Into Me” with heartfelt emotion. When Hollingworth danced amongst the crowd during “Donnie Darko,” some overzealous fans jumped up and down with her. It was a true testament of the band’s talent of bringing together unlikely elements.
The night ended with “Deep Six Textbook” from the band’s first album, I Gemini. Walton and Hollingworth began with a messy game of patty-cake, which led into the heavy, slow-burning encore. At another point, the moody atmosphere broke when the two friends started giggling. This combination of the playful and strange is what makes Let’s Eat Grandma so mesmerizing. Proving that they’re not all infectious hooks and dance beats, the duo is a curiosity with much more to show in the years ahead of them.