Grimes Toughs It Out For Vancouver Show

photo by John Londono

Grimes is like the manic pixie dream girl that is only supposed to exist in movies. She is talented and magnetic in one adorably ethereal package. Her most recent album Visions has taken her from the music scene periphery and transformed her into an indie darling. Suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus Grimes, real name Claire Boucher, cancelled several of her Canadian dates in order to take a much needed rest. Lucky for us, she chose to still go ahead with her Vancouver show at the Commodore. This is after all Grimes’ hometown.

Support came from local acts Myths and Elite Gymnastics. Myths is a raucous, electronic dance duo made up of Lief Hall and Quinne Rodgers.The stage was bedecked in flowers and a white sheet served as a background for trippy projections. One of the best things about Myths is their energy. The crowd was pretty frosty at first but Myths threw themselves around and wailed with rock star gusto.

Elite Gymnastics is James Brooks who hails from Surrey. It used to be a two man act until Josh Clancy dropped out earlier this year. As Brooks was the main songwriter and music maker this rift has not seemed to hold him back. He played a set of alternative, sample-heavy pop. My personal highlight was his Spice Girls cover of “Say You’ll Be There”. Let’s keep girl-power alive, people! He appeared briefly later, waltzing across the stage with a giant stuffed animal.

Grimes came out with her usual bleach blonde hair dyed black and worn in a ’90s velvet scrunchie. She had a Marilyn Manson sweatshirt on who was an early inspiration for her. Myths joined her on stage as quasi-backup singers/hype men. They were shrouded in cloaks which they later threw off to reveal dayglo skeleton leotards. She opened with the dreamy synth-drenched “Vanessa”. Her vocals sounded so pristine there was no indication of her ill health at all. This girl is a trooper. Grimes has named Mariah Carey as a huge influence and describes Mimi as a “goddess”. Grimes also possess a voice to be reckoned with. You have to experience it live to fully appreciate its lilting, otherworldly beauty. Grimes’ music is not just about showcasing her amazing voice, she also makes beats.  The music is simultaneously pretty and dark and defies easy genre definitions. She multi-tasked on the keyboard and synthesizers while bopping up and down like a kid on a sugar high.

Grimes broke through the crowd’s standard Vancouverite reserve when she launched into “Oblivion”.  The shimmering alternative pop anthem swept the crowd away and I was soon flailing around and trying my best to sing along. The crowd went similarly wild to her latest single “Genesis”. Tripping over her words Grimes told us she hated the whole encore routine. She would rather keep the vibe going and play another song instead of the tired disappearing act. She finished to a very appreciative audience with “Phone Sex”, a Blood Diamonds song she is featured on. Now the manic pixie dream girl is taking some well-deserved time off before she continues with her tour.

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien fills many the happy hour as contributing editor and writer for the Vancouver Weekly. She can be found eating all the nibbles at book launches or getting lost in tiny secondhand book stores. Follow her on twitter @jesso_brien