Grimes @ The Arches, 29 August
Opening a three-act bill before 8pm is always a challenge, but Grimes’ fellow Montrealers Majical Cloudz captivate from the outset. The duo’s minimalist take on repetitive, operatic electro-ballads, fuelled by the magnetism of Devon Welsh’s tremulous vocals, conjures an intensity which silences the crowd.
Some of that atmosphere dissipates during Becoming Real’s set. London’s Toby Ridler has forged an intricately-layered, high-BPM blend of post-dubstep techno and house; it’s a vibrant, buzzing mixture of ideas, but its insistent energy jars slightly with the spacious, dreamy textures of tonight’s other acts.
Collectively, however, the two supports echo the polarities of Grimes’ approach, which draws equally upon the brooding, nostalgic synthpop of Majical Cloudz and the restless futurism of Becoming Real. These elements are fused by her instinct for cartoonish theatricality, evident tonight in the deployment of a hotdog stand, a hairy male dancer, and the return of a sunglasses-clad Devon Welsh. Grimes’ intuitive understanding of the allure of simplicity and spectacle, her ability to assimilate disparate visual and sonic gestures within a remarkably cohesive whole, subtly embeds her conceptual ambition within a genuine pop sensibility. Accordingly, tonight’s set is cannily concise, focusing on the recent material, and it receives a justifiably rapturous response.