Grimes at 7th Street Entry, 3/13/12

By Rob Sherer

With Born Gold and Elite Gymnastics
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

View a slideshow from the concert here.

Anticipation was high as electro-pop darling Claire Boucher, more affectionately known as Grimes, took the stage at the intimate 7th Street Entry. Coaxed out by a glut of glowing reviews from blog boosters, an eager crowd filed into the sold-out club for a glimpse of what many are hailing as today's freshest voice in electro-pop.

Grimes is equally lauded as a sort of "it girl" in the creation of music in the "post-internet" age, an awkward phrase that in the realm of artistic creation speaks to the endless bounty of resources, influences and samples readily available online as the internet has shifted from its humble beginnings as a practical tool to something of a 21st century source book.

Citing specific references as disparate as Tin Pan music from Bali, Rihanna, Mariah Carey and Aphex Twin, Grimes' more broadly speaks of her inspiration as "what I find magnetic in entertainment and performance, well, I like the whole thing. I like to aestheticize every possible thing that can be aestheticized."

An ambitious goal to be sure, and one that is very much a work in progress judging by last night's performance. The brief set - the brevity of which was the result of multiple factors including a sore throat, a shortage of stage-ready material and Grimes' surprising confession that it's difficult for her piercing falsetto to compete with a barrage of heavy beats and disproportionate bass - was sloppy.

Grimes at 7th Street Entry, 3/13/12
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

On-stage sounds checks and a few false starts got the set off to a slow start - not what one would expect from an artist whose supporters would have you believe that Grimes has taken the electro-pop baton, running ahead at full speed. Things picked up as Grimes welcomed the threesome of Born Gold back to the stage to serve as some sort of "post-Internet" backing band.

Grimes' falsetto - arguably the most interesting thing she brings to the electro-pop table, was largely lost in a cloud of loops, and further obscured by vocal effects that prevented clearer access to the lyrics. Her pre-recorded voice did a lot of the heavy lifting, but the moments when Boucher's high-pitched chops lived up to their hype were special.

Short and choppy as the set was, Grimes delivered on her promise to get most of the crowd moving. One expected better energy to sweep over the club as Minneapolis was alive in the warmth of an unseasonably beautiful evening. The catchy beats and precious vocals Grimes delivers on Visions have the potential to soundtrack our winter thaw, but the performance was ultimately flat in the end.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Generous as technical difficulties made for a very slow start for Grimes. Several professed their love for Boucher and most were moved to dance. What else can you ask for?

Personal bias: The night belonged to Born Gold. A visceral combination of driving beats, digital pageantry and technical virtuosity got the crowd in the mood. A technical glitch midway through the set resulted in a particularly hypnotic bass assault, and a rather charming apology delivered with all the warmth of a computer-cloaked human voice. Oh for the days of the pre-"post-Internet."

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