Live Review: Grimes at The El Rey

Last Wednesday night, Grimes turned the El Rey into a dark magic dance party. I couldn’t dance as much as I wanted to though because we were all packed in close together at the sold-out show. 24-year-old Claire Boucher is a pure delight to watch onstage. She looks like a preternaturally confident and charismatic tween, with her high ponytail and bangs, shapeless Anarchy shirt and tiny stature. As I expected, the songs from her album Visions were more danceable and less dreamy live, but the beats combined with her wildly reverberating vocals were still totally entrancing.

Boucher tweaked knobs, played synths and sang, standing in between two back-up singers/dancers who belonged to an opening act that I missed. They wore ghostly shrouds in the beginning, which looked fantastic with the colored lights, and then tossed them later to reveal skeleton outfits with hints of Day-Glo. Boucher herself burst into quick jumping fits in between songs and made jerky, puppet gestures while singing in a way that suited the music. She also frequently held up a pointed finger, like someone bringing up a point in a conversation, or giving an exaggerated speech. She gives a very strong impression of being in control, and of having a blast.

Since it would be an understatement to say I’m no gear-head, I Googled to find out what equipment she usually uses: a Roland Juno-G, a Roland SP 404 sampler, a BOSS VE-20 vocal looper, and a Line 6 M9 pedal (via PrefixMag interview).

The Visions singles “Genesis” and “Oblivion” not only received huge audience response but also sounded fuller and more epic than on the album. Mostly light and effervescent in the recording, they were powerful and all-encompassing live and it was fun to see them come alive like that. I already love the album versions, but I was blown away by the live show.  And then of course Miss Brooke Candy from the “Genesis” video (1:53 min’s in) came out onstage and danced around like an over-sexed cyborg, and it was bizarre and hilarious.

Boucher announced near the end, in a chirpy little voice, that she thought going offstage and waiting for encore applause was lame – and I agree – and so soon it was all over, much too soon. Apologies for my crappy photos.

Simone Snaith

About Simone Snaith

Simone Snaith writes young adult and fantasy novels, and sings in the band Turning Violet. A fan of scifi, fantasy, the supernatural and most things from the '80s, she enjoys reviewing music, books and movies. You can read about her own books at
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