Posted in music | pictures on March 24, 2012

photos by Toby Tenenbaum, words by Rachel Kowal

Grimes @ Mercury Lounge - 3/23/2012 (early show)
Grimes

Immediately upon walking into the Mercury Lounge last night, for the 2nd of two Grimes shows, I was hit by a disorienting whir of blinking lights and pulsating electro-pop. It was the last song by Born Gold (formerly Gobble Gobble), and no theatrics were spared, down to garden shovel guitars, light-bulb studded jacket sleeves and odd, choreographed movements involving illuminated decorative fans. The wild, cacophonous final minutes of the performance were a lot to process as I fought to secure a clear sight line through the thick crowd. But the blissful visual and aural barrage emanating from the stage made me wish I had caught more of the set.

With hardly any time to rest since her earlier set, Grimes (i.e., Claire Boucher) emerged on stage for the second time of the evening. She snapped a few photographs of the sold-out crowd and was preparing to launch into her first song when she suddenly stopped herself and in rapid-fire-speak, briefed the crowd on her voice. "Oh yeah! Here's the thing. I'm like really sick. I was puking for a couple of days, and I had a really sore throat. So I'm really bad at hitting the high notes, so bear with me."

For an artist who draws so heavily from the upper octaves, Grimes' announcement had me a bit worried. And though her voice did lack some of its distinct chirpiness, her vocals took on a more washed out and ethereal quality that suited the songs well.

From where I stood in the crowd, I heard more than one person make an Enya comparison, but this was not the Enya of the Pure Moods Compilation CD that was constantly advertised on TV in the 90s. As one particularly popular YouTube commenter has pointed out, "this is what would happen if Enya did hardcore psychotropic drugs." The beats are fiercely fresh and the energy ecstatic.

What's great about Grimes is the ease with which she embodies contradictions. She's at once childlike and sweetly upbeat and a total bad ass in her trashy 80s chic. She's the Lana Del Rey who could. The first time you hear her sing, you want to recoil at the sound of her piercing puppet-like voice, but you can't stop listening. Oh, and the girl can dance.

Despite her ailment, Boucher tore through her set, stopping only to petition the sound guy to crank it up every song or two. Her quick movements sent her long hair flying as she cued, sampled, and manipulated the mass of equipment on the large folding table before her. Toward the middle of her set, the guys from Born Gold came out to join her, but their presence seemed to make little difference. The stage was hers.

At a time when "hazy" and "chill" seem to be ubiquitous descriptors of both the mood and music of the indie scene, Grimes comes along with a song like "Oblivion" that pumps you up and makes you feel good.

--

That review and the 7-song setlist below (it probably would have been longer if she was feeling better) are from the late show. The pictures here by Toby are from the early show, and Toby said, "Grimes played a 50 minute set after announcing that she had emerged from her dressing room after vomiting and feeling sick and would be unlikely to hit any high notes. Though she didn't seem to have too much trouble hitting when covering Oblivion from recent album Visions to the packed house's delight. "

Grimes, who also has an art show in town this weekend, does it again tonight at a sold out Glasslands. She then DJs, and luckily doesn't have to sing, at the afterparty.

More pictures and the late show setlist from Mercury Lounge, below...

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Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Born Gold

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes

Grimes late show set list
Intro
Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)
Vanessa
--
Oblivion
Be A Body
Genesis
--
Nightmusic
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Comments (56)

Linsanity doesn't give a shit about Grimes. Thanks for the new post. LINSANITY LIVES!

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 4:51 PM

Wow 7 songs? Glad I didn't shell out the $40 that people were trying to sell their tickets for - people that paid more than the $10 ticket must feel robbed

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 5:05 PM

c'mon, more fucking Grimes????

who is the editor of this blog...is this a joke?

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 5:11 PM

Yet another reason not to mistake beauty for goodness.

Posted by Crosseyed Sniper | March 24, 2012 5:18 PM

Her music yucky like poop on shoe

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 5:42 PM

why are all of you such haters? shes a gorgeous, talented girl doing her best. go fuck yourselves...all of you are probably overweight scratching your balls at this very moment waiting to respond to more negativity...keep at it assholes...
HAVE FUN

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 5:56 PM

Grimes publicist is really earning their keep.

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 6:03 PM

Gorgeous? She's a Williamsburg 8. That makes her about a 5 everywhere else.

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 6:17 PM

"williamsburg 8" <- priceless

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 6:34 PM

looks like a smelly Quebec elf

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 6:40 PM

Rachel, honey, if you want to sleep with Grimes you should just ask her.

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 6:51 PM

Maybe once she gets healed (from her sickness) she will look attractive and make music that is passably interesting?

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 6:58 PM

she should've rescheduled instead of showing up in NYC and playing 7 song/45 minute sets for a hype crowd.

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 7:16 PM

Saw her in Savannah a few weeks ago. The pits!!!

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 8:23 PM

Any updates on her health? I'm getting worried.

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 8:52 PM

I love her sideman...the stereotypical Québécois "electronic guy" straight outta 1989

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 8:54 PM

Rachel, you've been writing for BV for a while now. When is your writing going to improve?

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 9:12 PM

Anon, you've been commenting for years now. When are your comments going to get more clever and bitter?

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 10:03 PM

^ oh, I saw what you did there! Cool Story, Bro!

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 11:14 PM

She's right out of central casting for a ragtag young girl in a dystopian Mad Max type movie.

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 11:37 PM

Anon is a dick

Posted by Anonymous | March 24, 2012 11:51 PM

Dynamo from The Running Man lives on brilliantly through the stage act of Born Gold.

Posted by Big Perm | March 25, 2012 12:03 AM

"She's the Lana Del Rey who could"

This is the most retarded sentence in the history of human language.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 3:05 AM

She's gotta be the most ugliest hipster to crawl out of the Bronx ever

Posted by Sam | March 25, 2012 3:24 AM

Meh. I'd hit it if I was drunk, I guess.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 7:56 AM

Does anyone know where we can send her a Get Well Soon card?

We'll pass it around so all of us Anons can sign it!

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 10:12 AM

@ 3:05 AM - agreed. LITERALLY the worst.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 10:38 AM

She looks like Damon Albarn in drag.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 1:20 PM

she is talented, it is evidenced by her live performance. i understand it's hard to judge from pictures and 15 second youtube clips of her coughing/fucking up her set because she's sick. you'll all be paying $55 to see her at terminal 5 in a year tops.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 1:36 PM

Thanks 5:56, exactly people on here are nothing but haters. How many of you were this prolific by the age of 23? And then you bring it down yet another notch by judging her on her looks. She's a vivacious young girl making inspired energetic music. Post links to your music here and then you can continue to criticize so harshly.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 1:59 PM

vivacious!

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 2:04 PM

3:05 AM - THAT is the most banal sentiment I have ever heard. Are you normally so useless in your use of language?

10:38 AM - I'm not convinced that you are a different person than 3:05 AM. Can you prove it?

1:20 PM - oh, please drop some more names, I am still on the border about whether you are really smart or a total fucking nimrod

1:36 PM - not me, I'm not paying $55 and I'm not going to T5.

1:59 PM - Claire, if you spend your free time reading BV comments you will never move forward. Really, take it from me, turn off the computer and practice.

Posted by D | March 25, 2012 2:06 PM

Canadians smh

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 2:53 PM

This bitch SUCKS.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 3:11 PM

Who is homeboy rocking the green leopard print smock? What's that guy's deal?

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 3:25 PM

@2:06....You are much less intelligent than you think you are.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 3:37 PM

People actually read the write ups?

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 3:48 PM

The Hunger Grimes

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 5:06 PM

you're all idiots.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 5:25 PM

That word is so gauche and offensive. I prefer being referred to as a Jigaboo-American, thank you very much.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 6:19 PM

if you like this, you are a sheep idiot. fact.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 6:23 PM

"She's the Lana Del Rey who could."

There used to be a thing called music journalism. Bangs, Christgau, Marsh, etc. Even if you didn't agree with them they were a good insightful read. I don't know this is supposed to be.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 7:07 PM

stay classy, commenters.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 7:10 PM

Why is this generation so incapable of making good music?

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 7:25 PM

I am a black and I like the Grimes.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 10:47 PM

so prolific, so vivacious....

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 11:25 PM

Are the racist comments troll bait? I ask because the ignorance is astounding. Well...at least it's comforting to think of the sad lives of those living in their parent's basement who type that shit while in cowardly fear of actual human interaction.

Posted by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 11:36 PM

Luckily, the fate of the world doesn't hinge on 11:36 being able to write his/her way out of a wet paper bag.

Posted by Anonymous | March 26, 2012 12:19 AM

i liked when she showed off her little tits. everything else, not so much. get on your knees Grimes....all you're good for.

Posted by Anonymous | March 26, 2012 1:41 AM

Why does this blog have a comment section again? Oh, right. The comment section is here to allow anonymous people to spew hate. Great job!

Posted by Anonymous | March 26, 2012 6:39 AM

^ no, it's here just for you 6:39. we're all freeloading, it's really your world.

what's that smell ... is that ... coffee?

Posted by Anonymous | March 26, 2012 9:02 AM

You spelled "freeloading" wrong. It's really "trolling."

Posted by Anonymous | March 26, 2012 1:13 PM

^ oh, I saw what you did there .... COOL STORY BRO!

Posted by Anonymous | March 26, 2012 1:35 PM

1:35 is a winner at the game of life.

Posted by Anonymous | March 26, 2012 6:06 PM

You spelled "freeloading" wrong. It's really "trolling."

Posted by Myegy | March 31, 2012 3:37 PM

grimes rule

Posted by jordon | August 4, 2013 2:30 PM

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