Claire Boucher, A.K.A Grimes been quite the phenomenon in this decade. The Canadian artist has spent the last several years creating very pretty and dreamy synth-pop thanks to her enchanted, spiritual sounding vocals as well as fun, playful beats that are capable of being joyous, affectionate, danceable, sombre and sometimes gutsy. 2012's 'Visions' was where she truly broke out, mastering ethereal electronica and last year's 'Art Angels' saw her embrace her pop side more and cemented her as one of the most interesting figures in both modern pop and electronic music. Tonight she plays Leeds's O2 Academy, where her relevance in contemporary music is evident.
Before Grimes though we have HANA who actually assists Grimes with the synths and guitar in her live set. In HANA's own set she displays music in a similar vein to that of Grimes. Music which is driven by thick, repetitive beats which are often cold but occasionally bubbly whilst her fragile vocals add a nice icing to the cake. She displays confidence not being afraid to bust some moves alone onstage in front of a few thousand people who ultimately here for someone else. Keep an eye out for this one.
Grimes' set kicks off with a break dancer going ferociously amongst flickering strobes to the sound of the brief and gentle intro track 'Laughing And Not Being Normal', making this an exciting show from the start. Meanwhile Grimes herself sneaks onto a platform in the darkness where her synths stand. Another dancer joins as does Hana to assist Grimes with the music and wasting no time, the euphoric wonder 'Genesis' drops. As soon as those few soothing notes play sheer joy ignites within everyone as they roar "My heart, I never be, I never see, I never know", lyrics that are breathed more than they're sung on record. Also even though it's not the most danceable or toughest song, people are bouncing like its colossal dubstep and this continues for the rest of the night. There's even a mosh pit or two.
Whilst a lot of Grimes' music is delicate, people react to it in a much more explosive way, simply because their love for Grimes is bigger than sonic textures of the songs themselves. Of course Grimes does have more energetic songs, like the lush 'Venus Fly', which is rich in fun disco like textures. She states "this is to get people dancing, but you people don't seem to need it."
Whether it's a tender song or a lively song, the whole atmosphere is constantly electrifying from both the stage and the floor. The dancers are always thrilling and sometimes being armed with ribbons and gloves projecting lazers. The lightshow is always breath-taking, switching between each colour imaginable, projecting through a giant net set up onstage whilst mist enhances the colours making them look truly magical. As for Grimes herself, just like the crowd she's more wild than you'd expect. When she's not arranging the sounds on her platform she descends to join her dancers where admittedly she's not as skilful, but just as energetic, rolling around, headbanging and even occasionally screaming like a death metal vocalist. Her enthusiasm is also a treat to watch.
When it comes to an encore, Grimes actually admits that she doesn't care for them as it breaks momentum and it's not easy for her anxiety onstage, so her last song is actually going to be her last song. You'd never guess that she has any kind of fear, as she's a true performer who's been dazzling the whole night. She closes with arguably her feistiest song 'Kill V Maim', with sassy beats and a manic chorus which shows her doing something of a cheerleader chant but in a juvenile manner to the point in which it almost sounds sarcastic. Everyone goes wild dancing for one last time.
Overall this was a sensational show in every aspect. It was visually stunning and there was just a huge level of energy and love for the music both on and off stage, brought on by Grimes' music and what it means to people. If you've never seen Grimes, make sure you do next chance you get, it's an experience you don't want to miss.