I first discovered Grimes whilst looking through an ‘Underachievers please try harder’ set list a few months ago. I very rarely listen to electronic music, and this club night very rarely plays it. Yet two weeks after listening to her for the first time I was buying the tickets to see her perform live. This incredibly talented and likeable girl from Vancouver has produced a very special kind of music that I think a lot more people will start listening to over the coming months. Dreamy, lively and poetic sounds are combined beautifully in her latest album ‘Visions’, released earlier this year. This is the album that featured most prominently in her live set.
The gig was moved to The Ritz from Sound Control due to higher than expected demand for tickets, as I say this is someone who is rapidly being discovered by many people as one of the most exciting artists around today. I’m not sure she’d ever make the mainstream, because, well, she’s too good. It seems to me for a new artist to break through to being well-known these days; they’ve got to conform to a very narrow and unoriginal formula. It’s always been like this to an extent, but it’s definitely got worse as times gone on.
Grimes finally came on stage at 10; I heard they had to delay it once again due to higher than expected numbers on the night. As soon as she introduced herself it became obvious that her natural voice is as innocently high pitched as her singing. She moved through her first few numbers just with her one member of her backing on stage with her Each of them were operating mixing desks. She quickly switched between dials, buttons and decks to play her songs, also checking the levels on headphones and finding time to lose herself in the music which was a joy to watch. It was all very impressive, and that doesn’t even cover the range of her vocals. To be so busy managing all the components of her greatly varied and changeable songs – and still be able to sing in her incredible voice on top of that was amazing to see.
She was joined on stage later by two dancers, with at least one of whom had a ‘gothic’ look to them. I think the whole gothic theme is a bit silly to be honest, I don’t see how it actually fits in with Grimes as a person or her music – but then maybe it was more relevant to her earlier albums that I’m not as familiar with. The cover of her latest album looks like some kind of death metal creation, but her music couldn’t be further from that in reality.
Her thrilling set was an hour in total, maybe a little short but it was a great performance. I left with a real feeling of affection for her, she’s very talented but she’s not arrogant about it like too many others in the music industry are. I’d recommend her music to anyone, you won’t have heard anything like it before, and it’s hard not to be uplifted by its great blend of danceable rhythms, classical melodies and liberating vocals.
Words by Chris Ashworth