I didn’t find out who the opening act was for Lykke Li until days before the show on May 30th, because truth be told, I didn’t really care. I had spent a long time, (years in fact), immersed in Swedish culture, Sweden being the home base of the ultra fashionable Lykke Li, my sound hero of all things edgy and unusual. This time of Swedish worship included watching endless youtube videos of Li’s offbeat performances, spending a year abroad in Sweden, even working on a piece for The Daily Show in which we went to the home of Swedish Popstar: Robyn who performs “I’m Good, I’m Gone” with Lyyke Li in one of my favorite Youtube videos. Needless to say, my six degrees of Kevin Bacon was getting old and I was pumped up to attend this concert.
So, when I found out the opening act was an unknown (especially to me) Canadian songstress who has allegedly “wowed audiences and critics alike with her live performance at this year’s SXSW Music Festival, from Gorilla vs. Bear,” I was certainly intrigued. I watched a few of her videos and could not agree more with the description of the genre defying, “unique style” of Claire Boucher, aka Grimes. She most certainly delivered the “eerie childlike vocals over a blend of synth pop and hard-hitting beats. With a post-punk, DIY, conceptual art aesthetic, she oozes originality. From invented languages to Dune references, her work is fascinating” (SFGate).
In a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, she was not shy to say that her influences range anywhere from “Cleopatra, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and Mariah Carey,” to “New Edition, Enya, and Tchaikovsky” (SFGate). And to say that “audience members can expect ‘beauty, grace and a good outfit’ at her shows is an understatement” once you’ve watched her music videos, or more importantly, seen her perform live. I’ve posted two of Grimes’ videos below, (her official music video for “Vanessa,” and her live performance at SXSW), but believe me when I say that seeing her live is so much more enchanting, enthralling, and captivating than you can imagine.
Grimes began her set in an oversized camel colored “grandma” sweater, with bleach blond bangs, and the rest of her hair pulled back in a messy, dark pony tail. Somehow, on her thin frame this was the most chic combination we could imagine. The fog machine infused lights exchanged colors between hot pink and darkness, somewhat characteristic of Grimes herself. She chugged what looked like Anchor Steam beer in between sets, and although she was probably new to much of the audience, that didn’t keep them from screaming “I LOVE YOU GRIMES!” at the top of their lungs. Her multitasking ability to act as DJ to the hundreds, while singing live in various haunting styles, messing with recordings, keyboards, and loops that got the entire crowd bouncing is what I found so impressive about Grimes. As if those talents weren’t enough she also paints, draws and skips rope “1,000 times before each show.”
I watched her entire set that ran about an hour long, entertaining and beat bumping in its entirety. Unfortunately, however, my cohort started feeling very ill as the night wore on so we had to leave before Lykke Li ever even emerged. Bummed and heartbroken by the loss is what I would have been without Grimes’ performance. Because, despite my early departure from the show, and the absence of seeing my twenty-something hero, Lyyke Li, I truly felt that seeing Grimes was worth the $30 and the various bus rides it took to complete the trek. Don’t feel too bad for me yet, my friend is fine, and I’ve already purchased my make-up ticket for Lykke Li’s August performance in Central Park at the Summer Stage. NOTE: There are still many tickets left for select dates, but they are seriously going fast and some dates sold out completely, so go check out Thrillcall to find a city near you before it’s too late!
Grimes performs at Gorilla Vs Bear / Mexican Summer party, SXSW ’11:
Grimes’ Official Music Video- “Vanessa”
“With two albums released last year, a split EP with fellow Canadian d’Eon released last month, and a sophomore LP on its way, Grimes is moving at unparalleled speeds. Geidi Primes, Halfaxa and Darkbloom are all available on Arbutus Records.” (SFGate) For the Full Interview with Grimes click here.
Follow Courtnee Rizzo @chicsavoirfaire