The first legitimate live performance of Red Bull’s much-anticipated second installment of #30DaysInLA – the series of events that take place across every day of November – saw producer/songwriter Grimes aka Claire Boucher turn up a blistering hot sold-out show at the Mayan Theater.
Walking out onto the stage at 10:15 PM with her signature multi-colored hairstyle, some butterfly wings and a skirt — as well as some backup dancing help, Grimes jumped right into new material with the track “Laughing Without Being Normal.” She dusted a lot of her new stuff off for the first time a few weeks prior at Beach Goth, but this felt a little more special in the magnificent confines of the Mayan, a true downtown LA treasure. Her new album Art Angels will drop Nov. 9, so this was quite the sneak peek.
One of my favorite classic Grimes tracks of the night was “Genesis.” The song sounded like something that would’ve played had Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson went to the club in “Lost in Translation”. A lot of these Grimes tracks have a certain K-Pop flavor to them, completely drizzled in synthesizer like it’s an ice cream sundae.
One song later, Grimes would introduce the song “Venus Fly” as being one she collaborated on with Janelle Monae. Though Janelle Monae unfortunately wasn’t in attendance, Grimes did all the work herself. “I fucked that up bad,” Grimes said after stopping the track early on. She kicked right back into it and got things right on the second try. The track is ravey as f*ck is the best way I could possibly describe iot.
Turning things back to her debut album Visions was the crowd favorite “Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U).” Then it was back to some more new material, like “REALiTi,” which had some more friends of Grimes come onto the stage and dance along to the track.
Grimes was left without breath a number of times as she bounced between dancing on stage and simultaneously singing, back to her setup at the back where she mixed up her beats. Though the dancers and visuals provided some nice background, Claire Boucher is quite the one-woman show.
Mixing in a couple of collaborations she had done with Blood Diamonds (now BLOOD) like “Go” and “Phone Sex,” Grimes sent the crowd home happy and that much more anxious to hear the new album by concluding with new track “Kill v. Maim.” Boucher said the song is about Al Pacino being a transgender vampire.
Does anyone draw inspiration from things out of left field as well as Grimes? If Monday night was any indication, I don’t think so.
The opener was Nicole Dollanganger, who Grimes started her own label just so she could handle releasing her album. Though I caught the last few songs only, I found that Dollanganger writes some dark brooding tunes. It ended up being a nice contrast to what would come next.
Red Bull set the bar high for the remaining shows on their #30DaysInLA schedule by kicking things off with Grimes right out the gate. It’ll be hard to top for the best show of the series, but the great thing is there are 28 other opportunities to try.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photos via Koury Angelo and Carlo Cruz / Red Bull Sound Select