6 July, 2016, 18:30
Excitable youths impatiently await for someone who, thanks to social media, appears to be their collective, exceptionally talented, buddy. Now touring her 2015 album, Art Angels, it appears Grimes’ entire fan base has crammed themselves into the beehive that is the O2 Academy.
Medieval music triples over the canary-like chattering of the crowd. “Is that her?” rattles around the giddy fans in response to every silhouette that graces the simple stage. As backing dancer Alyson Van moves behind billowing smoke, the mystery intensifies painfully.
Grimes springs on stage like a fidgety pixie, putting all questioning to shame. Breaking into dance with her opening track ‘Realiti’ she is met with ecstatic screams. Linda Davies joins Alyson Van; the unconventional unison marching together in black shades, bringing stoic coolness to Grime’s ethereal singing. Support act and bandmate, HANA, impressively backs vocals as ‘Realiti’ peeks in animalistic shouting and dungeon growls.
Together they make a gang of supposedly ad hock, individualistic talent. They effortlessly jam, as easily as they fall into expert synchronised dancing. Their energy, every bit reminiscent of invigorating girly pop groups, now becomes bizarre and intriguing. Grimes throws herself around the stage with childlike excitement; accurately appearing at her decks in time to slap her sample pad, before flinging back into the routine.
She sweetly welcomes the crowd, “I have the flu, so I’m super pukey.”
Grimes somehow manages to create a charming balance of earnest audience interaction (there are various references to puke) and beguiling beauty. Her continuous pledge to take it easy on the next song repeatedly fails; her humbleness strengthening the crowd’s connection to her, her dedication seeming to harness some greater power.
Yellow streams of light drive over a red and pink glow. Grimes driving the pop rock riff through ‘Flesh Without Blood’ as the crowd singing along in delight, thronging as much as they can in their tight space. Majestic sword fighting follows k-pop cuteness. Laser beam gloves are ripped off and replaced with long stemmed flowers, which flung into the crowd. A red ribbon routine brings spirituality to the gentle piano that concludes ‘Genesis’. Alyson and Linda committing to an urban setting, incorporating industrial digging in their hyperactive dance moves.
It is with ‘Venus Fly’ that you understand Grime’s authentic femininity. Her charming babble dissolving in to a chanting frenzy. ‘Why you looking at me?’ is hammered into her drum pads before she falls to the ground, pounding the floor, with Alyson and Linda remaining her protectors either side.
Her show is an aerobics class on ecstasy, a fusion of spirituality and aggression, enlightenment to dark experiences. She can giggle in between the energetic drama. She can cheerfully introduce titles like ‘Kill vs. Maim’. She is a genuine expression, a true artist, and she gives one hell of a show.