Perhaps the most talked-about act of the year, Grimes finally headlined her first major tour across the US this month, with two stops at the El Rey in Los Angeles. She’s really the “It-Girl” du jour, and her latest album Visions has gained her not only a great deal of the notoriety she’s long deserved, but has also sparked a number of important discussions about music production and electronic music.
That said, her set at the El Rey was pleasant. Tour mates and personal buddies Myths opened the show with an unsettlingly confrontational set of ethereal noise (that, in all honesty, seemed to go over the heads of the crowd at times). They were followed by Elite Gymnastics, who opened with a dream-pop cover of “Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls. His set was charming and smart, but marred by technical difficulties, to which he blamed on “ghosts of the venue” and proceeded to cuddle a giant Totoro plush on stage.
Grimes took to the stage shortly after eleven, opening with “Symphonia IX.” Her presentation was what you would expect it to be: three tables with torn fabric in various neon colors; fake branches of cherry blossoms attached to the legs; more Totoro plushes in front of her mic stand; like a dark Anime acid trip brought to life. She rolled through her set, barely breaking in between tracks. The set was short (eight songs total) but stand outs included an extended version of her first “real” hit “Vanessa,” a mind-pounding remix of “Be A Body,” and the breakout hit “Phone Sex” (sans Blood Diamonds, but still wonderful).
Despite the brevity of her set, the gig was a success. The crowd was fully captivated by Grimes, dancing as awkwardly as they possibly could to “Oblivion” and giggling when she revealed her own insecurities about being on stage in front of a sold-out crowd. Therein lies her appeal: one well-crafted pop album (her most accessible work that’s not really pop but not really experimental?) brought Grimes a world of attention, and it even confuses her. She admits her production value isn’t exactly the best (the entire album was crafted on Garage Band, after all), but on stage she bops and screams with an attitude that detracts from whatever shortcomings she feels she has and makes you want to love her. Plus she cradled a Totoro on stage, how adorable is that?