We've all seen these electronic musicians that press play on their laptop and dance around on stage. We're never impressed. Nor we should be, because it's a cop-out (especially in EDM. But that rant is for another time). Grimes does plenty of knob-twisting, but she is actually something much more than another hack artist. She's just an artist.
Stuffed animals are strewn about the stage as Grimes comes out to her sold-out crowd. Two backup players open the set with her, two girls wrapped in something like cellophane on either side of the stage. A couple songs in, two more girls crawl (literally) out onto the stage wearing nightshirts and pink and teal wigs, with black makeup on their faces. As Grimes sings one of her hits, "Circumambient," the girls crawl toward each other. They meet in front of Grimes' keyboard, one starts playing with a stuffed dolphin while the other brushes her hair. By the next song, the two are engaging in some light choreography, standing to dance to the chorus of "Oblivion." For the lyric, "see you on a dark night," they point out to the crowd then smack their ass in unison on "night."
It might sound a little bit weird, but the performance aspect of the art made the Metro stage an interesting place to look at. The music had a similar effect, melodies that were fairly off-kilter but beats that were easy to dance to. Grimes moved around a lot, loosening up her crowd more and more as the night went on. About halfway through her set, half a dozen burly, bearded gay guys started dancing really hard in front of me. Half of them took their shirts off; proud bears having unrelenting fun. Pretty soon after, the entire main level of the venue was hands in the air, jumping up and down, going all out nuts for the art.
I went upstairs to try another view for "Genesis." On my way up, I accidentally stepped in a puddle of puke. A Metro employee apparently tried to tell me, but it was too late. We both shrugged and I peered over the crowd at the balcony. At some point during the puke incident, I missed a bunch of balloons that were thrown into the crowd. The opening acts were now on stage with Grimes too, dancing and tossing the stuffed animals around. Various Pokemon and Teletubbies nearly tapped the ceiling. And the audience was out their minds. It was one of the most enthusiastic Metro crowds I've ever seen.
Grimes didn't talk throughout the entire set until the end, and by the time she did her crowd was screaming for ecstatic joy. It was probably the loudest I've heard it in there since I happened to see the All-American Rejects during their "Swing Swing" peak. Sorry, not to be a downer there. Grimes' show was worth the thunderous applause. After introducing her band, she explained to the crowd that she doesn't like how bands go offstage and then come back for an encore, so she said that she would just play her encore song and then end the show right then and there. The crowd cheered. I cheered. Who are they kidding with encores anymore? When it was over everyone left so satisfied that not a single "one. more. song." chant was on anyone's mind.
We need more artists at the Metro. Chicagoans love art. And we really love Grimes.