Plastic leotards and leatherette tutus. Glitter covered everything and pastel faux fur. Neon faces and blown-out bedroom tattoos. The internet has vomited all over Manchester’s Academy and it’s beautiful. Every spectral colour is represented across a sea of semi-permanently dyed armpits and space-bun topped heads, and as I wade deeper into the crowd it becomes more and more difficult to focus on any one thing for more than 3 seconds. However, as darkness covers the room and the silhouettes of Riot Grrrl go-go dancers contort onto the stage under strobe light to the soundtrack of sci-fi strings, the rooms distracted eyes finally focus and become fixed on the platform. A small figure veiled by a hooded black robe appears from behind a collection of synth pads and circuits to deafening response. What can only be described as a K-Pop apocalypse follows. The cloaked figure in question? Grimes.

Whether it be collaborating with sugar-pop artist Bleachers on the locomotive ‘Entropy’ or touring America with the broken hearted Lana Del Rey, Claire Boucher, more commonly known as Grimes, has been incredibly busy. However, there’s been a lull in recorded releases over the past few years since the weeaboo Queen’s 2012 breakthrough Visions that’s involved scrapped albums that were dismissed as being “too depressing” and the need to broaden musical horizons by using “real instruments”. So if we can surmise from such statements that Boucher was going for something more euphoric and physical with her latest effort Art Angels, then the same can only be said for the Grimes live experience.

Where Grimes once hid behind a fortress of tech – under cover of dim light and twilight atmosphere, she now seems to find comfort indulging the extremes of her personality and overwhelming the eyes and ears of her audience. Whether it means rapping in Russian on a Aristophanes-lacking version of Art Angels cut ‘SCREAM’, or out-growling any demi-viking black metal enthusiast while her dancing entourage toy with knives and ribbons when it comes to a murderous live rendition of ‘Realti’, Grimes has chosen to bleed her filterless-ness into her live performance and it manages to move, change and shift faster than any post-internet brain is capable of keeping up with.

Android, demon, anime character. Boucher tries on many faces throughout the hyperactive evening, and the performance only serves to be an exercise in keeping up with them all which the audience couldn’t be happier about. From the vampiric, magenta-thrash of ‘Kill V. Maim’ to the neo-goth karaoke of ‘Oblivion’, the audience greet every song with nothing but devotional love which only further presents itself when a breathless Boucher reveals herself under the house lights to thank the audience. A seemingly endless stream of praise greets the 27 year-old in response to a night of bubble-metal, to which Boucher simply responds with an embarrassed face palm. Where she has proved herself to be a vicious, otherworldly force this evening, Boucher is still human and that fact cuts through as she carries a confident artistic curiosity and cut throat attitude, but still manages to crumble under the limelight. Maybe humility is the key to succeeding when you consume culture at an alien rate and spit it back out in a frenzied stream of consciousness, but regardless of the fact, tonight is definitely a win for the strange and unusual.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.