Last year I got a chance to see Grimes perform at Terminal 5 in New York City right after the release of her highly-acclaimed album Art Angels. The songs were a bit new to me then, as they surely were to her with regard to performance. I had a blast and was impressed by the energy onstage nonetheless.
Earlier this week I embarked on an 11 hour journey on an Amtrak train from New York Penn Station to Durham, North Carolina for Moogfest. The lineup attracted me initially, but the workshops, talks and the sense of adventure in a new city is what made this trip a realiti (I had to).
On Thursday I got a press preview of the Microsoft Kinect gesture-recognition installation REALiTi: Inside the Music of Grimes. The installation is fully interactive and encourages participants to press against sheets of mesh to activate the Kinects located in each corner of the room, which plays one of 20 stems from Grimes’ song REALiTi and lights up the room. In the process, participants are layering on basslines and vocals to create a live remix of the song if you will. In addition to the installation, Grimes was the talk of the town leading up to her performance last night at Motorco.
Grimes recently documented cutting off all of her hair on Instagram, a bold act for many that symbolizes freedom and change. Art Angels in every regard is an evolution for Grimes from the art, visuals, sounds, vocals, and most exciting of all stage performance. Her performance at Motorco was like none I’ve ever seen from her over the years (Primavera Sound, Mercury Lounge, Terminal 5, Hudson Pier, various DJ sets etc). On Art Angels Grimes finally found her voice, unburying it from layers and layers of sound and distortion, and a similar thing has happened with stage presence and confidence. On the current leg of her Art Angels performances, Grimes has stepped up from behind the machine and placed herself at the center of the show with the support of two dancers and her live collaborator HANA (and even does a bit of choreography!) Collectively, the performance is basically the coolest genre-skipping thing you’ll see in 2016.
I was so inspired after the show that I texted my friend back in New York: “Omg this Grimes performance is crazy, she literally put herself at the center of her show. Inspiring. Like looks comfortable and happy onstage, that’s a great place to be.” Embarrassing words admittedly, but I stand behind them. Personally 2016 has been truly about change, growth, and finding my own voice. It’s great to see others like Ms. Boucher doing the same and successfully.