Live Review: Grimes, Born Gold (Gobble Gobble), USF

Nikki Benson / February 21, 2012
Photo Credit: Kevin N. Murphy

The much talked about artist Grimes visited Seattle last night at the Sunset Tavern, a 200 capacity room. This tour must have been booked several months ago–she could have easily sold a few thousand tickets on buzz alone.

For example, today, on the release of Visions, is Grimes day on well-known blog Gorilla vs. Bear. She’s taken over the site and is sharing influences and experiences that have shaped the artist she is today. NME named her the most exciting new artist in 2012 out of 20 hopeful bands; this is only the beginning. In the words of SSG Music photographer Kevin N. Murphy, “in eight months, this [intimate] show is either going to be legendary or completely irrelevant.”

Pressure!

The evening showcased a broad spectrum of electronic talent, starting with the hardworking ambient-electronic Seattle outfit USF.

Photo Credit: Kevin N. Murphy

For the quote unquote rockists in the room, they were the most impressive band to watch of the night. They did the most live looping, employing live instrumentation with a sparse amount of pre-recorded tracks. Their composition was slick, seamless, rhythmic, interesting, bass heavy, and extremely danceable. They made it look easy and I assure you it’s not. Double thumbs up.

Next up was Born Gold, previously known as Gobble Gobble. Unlike USF, most of their material was pre-recorded, set up to change layers with midi triggers. There were bright lights and some creative choreography with a wii-like body sensor motion-triggering a twinkle light leather jacket and some fancy light-up gloves. There were some live vocals over pre-recorded vocals, but it was all a bunch of smoke and mirrors. If you put them in the context of DJs, they’re the number one act to book for your kid’s sweet 16, or a rave, or wherever the kids are tweaked out and don’t actually care if the musicians are playing music. They were entertaining to look at, and they put on an energetic stage show. Next.

When the highly anticipated Grimes finally came out, fans were whistling and cat calling from the moment she started to set up her gear. All eyes were locked on her to see she was as cool in person her singles “Oblivion” and “Genesis” sound on the internet. I don’t envy the lady put so high on a pedestal she has nowhere to go but down. She seemed a bit nervous and awkward, but handled her show with grace.

Grimes’ set was a perfect balance between the hardworking USF and the smoke and mirrors of Born Gold. She had a fair amount of pre-recorded tracks, did some basic live looping, and played keys. She was joined by Born Gold after her second song; they performed as a band for the remainder of the set.

After her first couple songs, Grimes said, “everything needs to be louder.” One person screamed thinking she was asking for the PA to be louder, but in fact she was asking for the audience to make more noise. Partway through the following song, “Vanessa,”  she stopped singing and said, “It’s really quiet in here. I can hear myself talk” then continued singing. Getting the message, the audience started to participate more with the music. Most of the songs were from Visions. Unless people were streaming via NPR, it’s likely that last night was their first listen to most of the songs played. The biggest crowd response was for  “Genesis,” her second to last song pre-encore.

The biggest difference from her recorded material and live show was her youthful presence. Born March 17, 1988, she didn’t appear (or sound) a day over 19. Her songs have more vocal strength in their recorded form, but that may change with time. Her strong points are creative composition and passive self-expression.

All and all, it was nice to be one of the privileged few to see her at The Sunset Tavern.

Grimes – “Vanessa”

Grimes – “Genesis”

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