All words: Ross Bonaime — All photos: Katherine Gaines
It seems like Grimes has come almost out of nowhere this year to become one of the predominant electronic artists around. The audience was eager to see her at this high point in her career sold out U Street Music Hall. But before the audience got to witness the rising star, they got to witness two…interesting… acts prior.
The stage for the evening looked like something from Miss Havisham’s house in Great Expectations, as white sheets and fake flowers were strewn around the stage and classical music mixed with electronic sounds played. None of this seemed as unusual as the first opening act, the duo Myths. One member looked like she had an old doily on her head, while the other girl looked like a combination of Aeon Flux and that girl from the old kid’s show the Big Comfy Couch.
Their sound was like electronic New Age at first, with their first thirteen-minute song comprised of not much more than nonsensical harmonizing. The rest of their song featured both girls taking turns screaming or yipping at each other. The best I can describe their performance was as two little kids trying their best to imitate Karen O and Alice Glass, and not pulling it off well.
The next opener was Elite Gymnastics, who started out with plenty of promise, but quickly also fell into that “what am I watching here?” category. As a projector showed what looked like a karaoke sing-along, the one-man-band, also known as James Brooks, sang his own rendition of Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There.” You sing some 90s songs, I’m on board, but what follows was too weird. Almost every song had some sort of malfunction, to a point where Brooks started doing breathing exercises, then talking about how we should all read more poetry while some nature sounds played in the background.
After a bunch of songs where things went wrong, he performed one song in which he speaks over a backing track, but came off as a mediocre attempt to rewrite LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge.” But then, of course, another malfunction occurred. He then went on to stand on his guitar for a while, then get very down on himself, calling his own songs not as good as the Spice Girls track, and then after playing “Andreja 4-Ever,” cut off his set short. Their was definitely potential to be had there, but Brooks’ stage presence was so “unique” that it’s hard to disconnect the music from his performance.
Finally, Grimes came out, with the two members of Myths shrouded in sheets. I was a little worried about Myths coming back out, but as a backing band and cheerleaders, they were fine. At least they weren’t chirping at each other anymore.
Grimes started off with “Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U),” and already you could see a level of performance that the previous artists lacked. This was followed by “Vanessa” and “Circumambient,” but the crowd didn’t start to get insane until “Oblivion” halfway through her set, as the audience became somewhere in between a dancing mob and a less-intense pit.
Grimes is impressive to watch. While she does have Myths helping her out, she is doing so much on her own, constantly tweaking instruments and when she’s not, jumping around and dancing. There’s rarely a second where she’s not working on something and it’s exciting to watch.
After a few tracks like “Be a Body” and “Nightmusic” from her latest album “Visions,” she played another one of her most popular tracks, “Genesis,” which Brooks came back out on stage to throw some flowers into the audience.
After only about ten songs, Grimes left the stage, still bouncing around. But wow, Grimes made up for her opening acts easily. Grimes is a pretty incredible performer, one who is both professional and exuberant throughout an entire set and knows exactly how to get a crowd going.