There’s something magical about the Corner Hotel. When looking upon its alumni you see big names like The Living End right next to new comers, the likes of Ball Park Music.
I made an appearance at the Corner Hotel on this particular evening to catch a rising talent before she got too big for the club gigs. Claire Boucher, AKA Grimes, made the voyage from Canada to our shores for the Meredith Music and Arts Festival, but also decided she’d give her debut visit to Australia a little more weight by adding a slew of sideshows, including two in Melbourne.
I guess that’s what happened when an artist gets hyped to the max. All year round Visions – Grimes’ third release – was touted as a genre defying foray into electronic pop. It was praised by all manner of publications from Pitchfork to its polar opposite, the NME.
Some big props there, for a record that was recorded and produced in her bedroom – originally to Garageband!
Arriving just as support act George O’Connor ended I was greeted by a bizarre set up featuring a cellist amongst the more contemporary instruments. The pop songs were received well by the largely Triple J-based crowd who scream of a more refined, classy San Cisco. The paired female and male harmonies were effective and the use of keyboard loops was reminiscent of the artist they were supporting.
Grimes waltzed on stage at about 9:45, but not after a half hour interlude of classical music. I’m not kidding here, Grimes, for her crowd warming pre-show music, has the likes of Mozart and Chopin blasted through the PA.
As the lights dimmed and smoke filled the venue, a slight, caped figure crept on stage to rapturous applause before meekly informing the crowd this is the furthest she’s ever been from home – let alone played a gig!
Boucher demonstrated her virtuosity early, opening with “Vanessa”. Hunched over both of her synthesizers she timidly remarked that she sometimes forgets where her effects are.
It wasn’t long before she was joined by two backing dancers, one of which she described as from our “beautiful country”, and launched into tracks from her latest release. First up was a teaser, not one of her instant hits but a solid track amongst a near flawless record, “Circumambient”. “Be a Body” followed and was welcomed with screams of delight from the girls in front of us, who refused to move from the barrier the entire show. The rest of the crowd were up and dancing however as the light show burst into technicolour and the haze crafted a beautiful ambience as Grimes got her dance on.
She bounced across the stage for the entire show putting her all into every track. Lead singles “Oblivion” and “Genesis” were played within close proximity and there wasn’t a single person in the crowd who wasn’t trying to outdo the energy that Grimes had on stage.
What’s interesting to note here is the bizarre amalgamation of people who walked through the doors that night.
Grimes has said in interviews that she haswo kinds of fans – those who love Lykke Li and pop music and those who identify with the experimental nature of her persona. She says she feels more comfortable with the latter, however according to the crowd who were at the Corner Hotel she has more than two cliques of fans.
There were hipsters mingling with teeny boppers and those who for some reason felt the need to be the greatest Grimes doppelganger.
The set only ran for about an hour but it was a hectic hour, and I doubt Boucher could have played any longer than that.
Did Grimes live up to all that hype which Visions created? You betcha.
Be A Body
Symphonia XI (My Wait is U)