Sunday, December 16

grimes at the san francisco bath house


Photos By: Sean Aickin

Earlier this year I asked my friend Charlotte to list off any new music I should be listening to - nestled within her list was Grimes, a musician I'd never heard of before. After watching Oblivion on Youtube - the university drop-out with an obsession for psychics and Totoro certainly had me listening. When Grimes announced a New Zealand tour in December, the ticket for her Wellington show was a quick and easy purchase...

After a few drinks at Good Luck, my friends and I wandered up Cuba St to The San Francisco Bath House. The crowd gathering inside the small venue was an infestation of baby Grimes, all wearing layered-platform shoes, with sequins adorning their foreheads. My friends and I each grabbed a beer and quickly planted ourselves at the front of the stage (where we somehow managed to stay for the entire night). The opening act was a Wellington duo, Black City Lights, who were clad in black and a great start to the night with their dreamy electro pop set. Randa followed pelting out some good raps with an even better stage presence but the crowd was restless, chewing through their vegetables in order to be rewarded with their favourite dessert.

In the wait I started up a conversation with a girl beside me and we pondered what haircut Grimes would have this time around. Although the girl admitted to me that seeing Grimes was to be the highlight of her year, her outburst of huge sobs in reaction to Grimes's sudden appearance was startling...but then, to some extent, I understood the tears. Grimes' beauty strikes you immediately. Her petite ballerina body, 80's/Tokyo outfit, wide expressive eyes with tribal paint makeup and her brilliant dance moves - all topped off with an adorable lisp - was overwhelming.  And the music - flawlessly performed by an unbelievable stage presence (CF the indie boy bands who only seem to sway and do 'cry-face'). Even when Grimes' microphone cut out in the middle of Genesis, her sweet chit-chat made the audience swell and push closer to the front. Two girls actually got pulled up on stage to dance with her during the final act (one of them could only blink in shock the entire time she stood next to the musician). Another girl got dragged off the stage when she attempted to be close to the performer, then one of Grimes's dancers launched herself into the crowd adding to the chaos (I heard all theses things happened several times at Auckland's Powerstation the next night).

However, the dream didn't go completely uninterrupted. Both the shortness of Grimes' set (without an encore because she hates the process of leaving then coming back) as well as the crowd's uncontrolled obsession were both set backs. I didn't appreciate the girl next to me screaming every lyric, nor another group simultaneously kicking my boyfriend for being tall then hitting on him for being handsome. Neither did I appreciate the bruises I received from being crushed against the stage's bar...BUT in many ways, these are the personal qualms of a girl who occasionally feels claustrophobic in small, intense places. Furthermore, this is Concert/Crowd Psychology 101 where every physical movement and emotional reaction is amplified by a hundred, creating a beast who is enraptured with pure, animalistic desire. The crowd don't think, they just do and when it is all over the beast quietly pulls apart, into dazed individuals.

During the final songs, a machine torpedoed bubbles into the audience and stage, slowly surrounding Grimes with a detergenty halo - it was hard not to feel comparatively insignificant. But then I reminded myself what I was seeing was a carefully rehearsed performance. When Grimes first walked on to thundering screams and when her microphone zonked out, a shimmering of the humble and bewildered Claire Boucher may have appeared, but the rest of the show was a practiced saturation of black dirt with a capital 'G'. And this Grime is something I'm never going to wash off.


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