wed 21/08/2019

Grimes, XOYO | reviews, news & interviews

Grimes, XOYO

Grimes, XOYO

Popular but underwhelming showcase for talented uber-hip Canadian

Grimes taking a walk on the wild side

Grimes’ new album, Visions, her third, is an invigorating piece of work, a very 2012 meltdown of twitchy tuneful electronica and sweet indie-ethereal singing. It’s an album that cannot decide whether to put on its dancing shoes or sit back and smoke a joint, so decides to muddle heads with skewed sonics while also making the feet twitch. The 24-year-old pink-haired Canadian naturally goes for the energized option in performance, but the venue is so crammed that movement is restricted, in fact, it’s distinctly uncomfortable, not conducive. But let’s rewind the clock a little.

XOYO is sardine-packed full of mid-twenties hipsters, skinny in black, outsized baseball caps, military peripherals and high end charity shop chic. Tonight, I hear someone say, is “the hottest ticket in London this week”. Indeed, it’s been sold out for weeks. Unfortunately a lot of people who go to “the hottest ticket in London this week” go because they like the idea of being there, rather than because they’re burning for the music. Throughout the night, while there were approving whoops galore, there was never the sense of fevered enjoyment that can imprint a concert firmly on the memory.

Grimes’ music is juicy, defiantly quirked out, but this evening didn’t do it justice

The venue is just as trendy as its clientele – warehouse decor, boarded floor, open ducting across the ceiling, and the bars enclosed in red puffa jacket-style cushioning. The bar staff are also suitably impressed with themselves. The support act, Tonsstartbandht, two brothers from Florida, initially appear to be a royal pain in the arse, jamming their entwined voices and some electronics piercingly into a droney late-period-Electric-Prunes vibe. However, I am very wrong - as they progress, swapping instruments – drums, guitar, sampler, synth – they build up a minor key noise assault, mantric, like sludge metal with the metal taken out, and never veer far from their doomy harmonies. Ones to watch.

Grimes, Claire Boucher from Montreal, an elfin attractive young woman whose stage name is deliberately, mischievously misleading, arrives on stage with two dancers, one topless and male, one oriental and female. Her hair is in a plait, her face splashed with glitter stripes, and she wears a slimline black top. She has boxes of electronic wizardry out front but rarely touches them at first, instead dancing around and singing, soon joined by a further two topless men. Pink light bathes them all, and dry ice. There’s not very much to see, silhouettes bobbing in the mist, and it’s more a PA than a concert. The music, unlike on her albums, sounds distinctly like Orbital, a long extended alternative mix of “Halcyon + On”.

The dancers soon disappear and Grimes is left with her mic and boxes of tricks. She starts pressing buttons a bit more but it’s her voice that bewitches, cute but forceful, swerving in and out of the pulsing beats and effects she whips up. She jigs around for the whole set, smiling and thoroughly enjoying herself like a teen in front of a bedroom mirror as numbers such as “Genesis” and “Oblivion” are amped into floor-moving electro-pop. The whole thing lasts for 50 minutes or so, and no encore. I am underwhelmed. Not by the length but by the general sense that not much has occurred. My accomplices think I’m being mean-spirited and that it was a “great show”. But they’re not writing this and I reckon Grimes’ music is juicy, defiantly quirked out, but this evening didn’t do it justice.

Watch the video for "Oblivion"


 

There’s not very much to see, silhouettes bobbing in the mist, and it’s more a PA than a concert

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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