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Bottletree Cafe, Birmingham AL

October 2, 2012

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by fernloth

She sounds good in headphones. 

 Grimes is a very talented musical producer. She has a good feel for blending basic pop and dance rhythms with enough offbeat, exotic atmospherics to court the retro-hungry modern indie crowd without wallowing in it like many of her contemporaries do. She does share one weakness with them. She hasn't learned to translate her production to the live stage. 

Not that the crowd was complaining! In general, the modern live show tends to have more similarities to a fireworks show than the ritualistic, sacred processions of the more 'classic' eras. Two acts preceded Grimes on stage. Both consisted of fairly generic beat tracks with some token vocals shouted over the top and a lot of hopping up and down. A much younger crowd than I shouted and hopped along eagerly. After the second performer's Ipad went dead prematurely in his set, Grimes took the stage.

 Unlike her openers, Grimes' singing is a central aspect to her music. However, for whatever reason, she did so sporadically in her set. A great deal of her vocals were pre-recorded and it appeared to me she lipsynched through several sections. Where she didn't, she had difficulty retaining the chirpy, strange lilt that make many of her songs so interesting. Again, the predictable dance beats kept everyone drinking and hopping as faithfully as fireworks draw oooo's and aaaah's, but there was little more to it than that. Sequencers and computers don't lend themselves well to the visual interaction of a rock show, and the performance artistry and theatrics of many similarly limited pop artists also was low in supply. It was a push-button-play-dance affair, and while it served well enough for the small club crowd drawn on hipster name recognition, Grimes will have to dig deeper to compliment her substantial production skills if she plans to continue live performance.

The indie-hipster world is fickle. Technology has made musical creation extremely accessible, if shallow. Grimes is a name now, but there will be thousands of clones next year drowning her out on the podcasts, live scenes and boutique labels of tomorrow. As I see it, the one substantial challenge facing most of today's computer-based producers is how to take their show effectively to a larger audience. The answer, thus far, has been small venues and large festivals. But these lack the cohesive, long-term connection with their crowds successful rock and pop acts of yesteryear enjoyed. As a result, today's producers are fortunate to have even an eyeblink of success before being passed over for the next obscure "project".  Grimes is a compelling talent, but I believe live music still needs to be more than just a postage stamp on a generic dance party. Grimes' show last night, was far too postage stamp for my taste.

This review is the subjective opinion of the individual reviewer and not of ConcertBuzz

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Rating: 1.9/5 (78 votes cast)

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