I would like to imagine that Claire Boucher, otherwise known as Grimes, is at present touring around the UK in a tour bus accommodating several crates of Red Bull, a larger-than-appropriate number of glitter-filled vats, and very little else. Amidst fluorescent green strobe lighting, a haze of smoke and the placid sound of ‘Laughing and Not Being Normal’s falling water droplets, Grimes sneaks onto the stage, pixie-like, ready to treat her audience to a whirling pool of psyche altering electronica.
Dazzling tracks such as ‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’ aren’t particularly preoccupied with addressing the present, and these, interspersed with recently released Artangels, translate astonishingly onstage. The frenetic sonic textures and sugar rush inflections we’d expect from Grimes sustain an atmosphere that is equally electrifying on stage as it is on the floor. Dancers armed with ribbons and gloves projecting lasers compliment a technicoloured lightshow, as a giant net of emerald pinpricks adorning the ceiling moves towards a generous mist that enhances the entire spectacle. As for Grimes herself, there’s a fair amount of elbowy dancing going on – as in, her dancing is basically a lot elbow jerking, and I seem to be getting a great deal of people’s elbows in my neck, too. The audience bouncing to the colossal dubstep even prompts Grimes herself to interject by saying that, as much as she’s glad the crowd seems to be having a good time, she’d be grateful if everyone could make sure that no one ends up getting hospitalized.
‘Scream’ tends to be a track I skip past when listening to Artangels: walking to a morning lecture listening to a Taiwanese rapper absolutely losing it, I’ll admit, isn’t really my cup of tea. The macabre horrorcore of the number sits incongruously on the tracklisting, yet in performance, several hundred androgynous, heavily-fringed hipsters literally screaming for two and a half minutes is a surprisingly elating experience. For the most-part, no one is entirely sure what Grimes is actually singing about, but that renders the candyfloss assault of ‘Flesh without Blood’ and equally lush ‘Venus Fly’ all the more tantalising. Likewise, the headspace evoked by fan-favourite ‘Realiti’ is commendable, and that alone goes at least some in carving Grimes a notch in the pop canon.
This headspace cultivated by Grimes is continually evolving, so the momentary lapse that comes with the announcement of ‘World Princess Part II’ mars the set just a tad. Boucher warns us that the choreography is a work in progress, so the likelihood of her forgetting the lyrics to the second verse is fairly likely. As if on cue, she forgets the lyrics to the second verse whilst intergalactic synths continue full steam ahead. Nonetheless, the proceeding, guitar-infused ‘Kill V. Maim’ closes the show raucously, and as we might expect, she’s still laughing and not being normal.