Tuesday, Oct. 16th
If your ears were ringing when you left Neumos last night, you weren't the only one. Earlier in>"/>
If your ears were ringing when you left Neumos last night, you weren't the only one. Earlier in the day, Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, announced the cancellation of the remaining dates of her tour due to hearing loss, tweeting "Hey guys, so sorry 4 the cancelled shows. im having trouble w hearing loss, tinnitus & am trying 2 stay away from loud music 4 a bit -_-." The prolific 24-year-old experimental pop artist has been on tour most of the year, stopping by Seattle earlier this summer at the Capitol Hill Block Party before returning to play a sold-out Neumos last night.
Openers Myths apparently failed to get the memo to turn it down-- their set was one of the more ear-shredding in recent memory. But the Vancouverites made up for the volume with interesting, textured tracks whose sinister vibe melded perfectly with the duo's layered vocals. Dressed exotically in lamé and glowing bracelets, it was clear they took a page from Grimes' book, or vice versa. They weren't alone-- half the audience looked like entrants in a Grimes costume contest.
Grimes is known for her exuberant, enthusiastic personality and performance, so it's not surprising that she let the volume creep over many months of touring (at Block Party, her monitors were ready to leap off the stage). Understandably, she's now worried about protecting her hearing, and wore giant headphones on stage. At the beginning of the set, the volume was underwhelmingly low. It was a challenge to build intensity without the giant washes of samples and bass that characterize her music. Simply put, it seems designed to hear loud.
But as the set progressed, she played "Genesis," one of the hits from this year's Visions, and the crowd, eager to move, began to dance. The set took off from there, and though the volume knobs may not have been turned up, the performance certainly wasn't toned down. Backed by the women of Myths, who provided excellent dancing as well as musical support, it was clear Grimes was still bubbly despite her worries. One of the most interesting aspects of seeing her live is that she does a lot more than push play on her intricate backing tracks, with live looping and other elements making it possible for her to alter and stretch out songs dramatically. Her airy, Mariah-style vocals were on point as well.
About 45 minutes in, she was ready to wrap up. Announcing that she dislikes encores, and would rather just play a long "thing," she launched into "Phone Sex," the Blood Diamonds-produced track that's a wonder of cathartic '90s revival pop. Grimes is one of the most "of-the-moment" artists out there, and that's why she's a divisive figure at times. But she's also a talented and inspiring artist whose dedication to music runs deep. She's said that she wants to take Grimes in a more aggressive direction. Let's hope these hearing problems are just a bump in the road so she can continue putting out an album a year.
Moral of the story: Wear earplugs!