Concert Review: Grimes at Fortune Sound Club

Published on February 20, 2012

By Megan Forsyth

Vancouver-born recording artist Grimes kicked off her world tour on February 18 at Fortune Sound Club in Chinatown. Since returning to the West Coast after some time spent living in Montreal, 23-year-old Claire Boucher is riding a career-high after being signed to British record label 4AD last month, along with this week’s impending release of her already critically-acclaimed album, Visions, the latest recipient of Pitchfork’s Best New Music tag. Her third full-length effort since 2010, it’s easily Grimes’ strongest collection of songs to date, characterized by deep pulsing beats, ethereal loops and layering, and eerily Mariah Carey-esque vocals, who Boucher unabashadely considers to be her biggest influence. The music is often dark and mysterious, but Boucher’s innocent, almost childlike voice is what offers hints of optimism throughout.

Visions is an album that begs to be heard loud through a badass pair of headphones, and I spent most of last week doing just that, but listening to brilliantly-produced new cuts like “Genesis” and “Oblivion,” I found myself wondering how the music would translate live. Fortunately for Grimes, Fortune Sound Club boasts the best sound system in the city, specifically intended for hip-hop and experimental electronic shows such as hers. The songs sounded even bigger and better than on record, and there couldn’t have possibly been a more suitable venue for the up-and-comer to test out new material before embarking on her first major headlining tour. Even standing near the back, I felt as if I were directly in front of a speaker at the edge of the stage; the songs pulsed through my head to my toes, and I’m sure that if I had grabbed onto the person standing next to me, the ensuing effect would have thrown me right off balance.

Hear “Oblivion” from Visions:

Grimes was unaccompanied for most of the hour-long set, although members of opener group Born Gold (formerly Gobble Gobble) joined her onstage for what is probably her most recognizable song, “Vanessa” (taken from last year’s Darkbloom split with d’Eon). With a headband and ponytail fashioned high atop her head, Boucher channeled a late-eighties/early-nineties Madonna as she energetically bounced between her keyboard and mix machine — at certain moments I half-expected her to break out into steps from an eighties workout video. It never got that far (probably for the best) and rather she continued to wow the happily drunken crowd offering up layered vocals that sounded just as dreamy as on record. The show served as a warm homecoming for a critical darling who is sure to be one of Vancouver’s best music exports this year, as well as a perfect send-off for what is destined to be a successful, career-affirming tour.

Megan Forsyth contributes to the music section of this here website. She also runs her own music blog, Music vs. Misery.