Grimes @ Arches, Glasgow 29.08.12

Glasgow sees the hotly anticipated return of Canadian electro-pop artist, Grimes after her sold out gig at the Berkeley Suite on 7 May 2012. This time round, the gig is held inside the pulsating stone chambers of the Arches, the pumping heart of the city’s diehard, debauched and decadent nightlife.

Aug 29th, 2012 at Arches, Glasgow / By Anna Cheung
Grimes @ Arches, Glasgow 29.08.12 There is a definite buzz mingling amongst the crowd in anticipation of Grimes set tonight – animated conversation sparking up like static in the gathering storm of excitement, laughter brewing over plastic pint cups and gin & tonics. The crowd are a satisfying mix of students, diehard fans, inquisitive spectators, journalists and fashionistas – a bag of pick’n’mix people freshly rolled out from the current media hype.

Opening acts Majical Cloudz and Becoming Real provide a warm-up taster to what’s to come – the former is all ethereal soundscapes and cascading melodies, sonically not straying far from their collaborated Grimes’ track, ‘Nightmusic’ whilst Becoming Real takes the audience on an historical journey with his impressive electro mash-up. His tracks ranged anywhere from deep progressive house, to funky 303 acid synths to vintage garage-soul before submerging into the darker wave of the Dubstep genre.

As an artist who likes to be influenced by “a culture of pure aesthetics”, Grimes does not disappoint by taking to the stage under the guise of a hotdog vendor. With her keyboard, microphone and sampler equipment hidden underneath the huge neon HOTDOG sign, Grimes serves up tracks from her latest album, Visions, under the new indie label 4AD, with sweet dollops of enthusiasm to a hungry and salivating audience. With her trademark pigtails and razor blunt fringe framing a fantastic mono-brow, she reminds me of futuristic Helga from the cartoon series Hey Arnold!, defining Grimes’ preference for cultural influence over regular aesthetics.

First track up is ‘Symphonia IX’. Grimes samples live vocals into the track, blending the lush layers together into ethnic harmony above the electro keyboard riff. The synth intro is Kraftwerk-esque whilst the vocals undeniably Enya – merging distinct masculine craftsmanship with delicate feminine qualities which is perhaps what gives her music a certain edge and accessibility. ‘Vanessa’, from the 2011 EP, Darkbloom, hypnotises the audience with its stomping beat and catchy chorus. Visual enhancements include flashing imagery projected from the large video screen whilst a demented male dancer sweats out the beats on stage in wide-eyed ecstasy during ‘Circumambient’. Even the drummer to the right, wearing a deadpan face and shades, is a relevant jigsaw piece to the futuristic set.

By the time the popular tracks , ‘Genesis’, and ‘Oblivion’, single releases from Visions, are played, the crowd have merged into one democratic pulp, arms flailing in the air, united in one musical passion. All eyeballs are glued on Grimes, who at this point, buoyed by the excitement of the crowd, has launched into her own brand of kooky-robotics – all pendulum pigtails and awkward elbows jabbing shapes into the air like a hotdog vendor high on mustard powder. When the dreamy encore, ‘Nightmusic’, finally sways to a close, the thick applause from the crowd fall like heavy curtains, a fitting finale to a spectacular show.