Vancouver-born and Montreal-based Grimes—or Claire Boucher—played Toronto’s Lee’s Palace on September 21stalong with two opening acts.
Myths (comprised of Lief Hall and Quinne Rodgers) kicked things off just after ten, stage decorated with fake flowers and instruments draped in gauzy white cloth. Wearing skeleton and flower themed outfits, the duo’s electro-pop performance seemed somewhat out of sync and at times offered a ruthless sensory explosion—such as when one of the girls picked up and danced with the strobe light, blinding the audience every three seconds.
Next up was Elite Gymnastics, or James Brooks—the other half of the band, Josh Clancy, quit this past August. Brooke charmed the female portion of the crowd with a Spice Girls remix (Say You’ll Be There turned electro), but there was a sense of agitation throughout the audience when the show became more talk than music. Since it was 19+, Brooks started up a Q and A with drink tokens as prizes. The questions ranged from, “Who’s most excited to see Grimes?” to “Who here was raised by a single parent?” Post-therapy, he played a few more songs, and through the ‘window’ to the left of the stage, you could spot Grimes dancing and jumping around.
Just past midnight, Lee’s Palace jam-packed for the sold-out show, Grimes took the stage and immediately had the audience dancing, but it was her well known Genesis and Oblivion that electrified the venue.
The girls from Myths were also on stage with Grimes, dancing in what looked like translucent trash bags, while Brooks mostly sat stage left hugging a stuffed Totoro and cocooning himself in the camo jacket that Grimes had shed halfway through her set.
Despite the interviews in which Grimes has claimed that performing isn’t really her thing and that Visions is meant to be listened to through headphones before you go to sleep, she puts on a ridiculously good show. She’s oddly captivating, what with the green hair, the drinking of an unidentified beverage between songs, and the way she conflates singer and producer—often couching the microphone between her shoulder and the side of her head, breaking from the vocals to focus on the keyboard or synthesizer.
Along with the music, the venue aesthetics created an almost magical and certainly strange concert experience, punctuated by the bubbles that drifted above the chaotic crowd and the sporadic sprinkling of fake flower petals from that same open window.
Grimes ended things off by bashing the exit/re-enter tradition of encores, and instead told us she’d just play her encore right now, which was Nightmusic, the third-to-last Visions song, produced by Majical Cloudz. She then bowed and stumble-jumped backstage, and the crowd thinned out into a drizzly Toronto night.
Grimes’ tour continues with major cities around the U.S. and a few Canadian stops mid-October, before she takes off for the U.K., Europe, the Netherlands, and Australia.