Grimes: Circumambient

Live Shot of Grimes at Lamberts last night

Montreal's Grimes packs out Lamberts, 2.29.12
Montreal's Grimes packs out Lamberts, 2.29.12 (by Brett Rivera)

The exclusivity of a sold-out show casts a definitive air on any performance. That was certainly the case at upscale BBQ joint Lamberts on Wednesday night as a dense crowd packed the cozy upstairs space.

Opener Born Gold skirted the live pitfalls of electronic acts by using lights and crowd involvement to replace the theatrics that traditional instruments allow. Frontman Cecil Frena donned a leather jacket wired with light bulbs, which lit up individually based on how high he raised his arms. Stilts, glitter masks, and light-up Chinese fans assured that Born Gold will go down as the Cirque du Soleil of noise-pop acts.

The Canadian trio from Alberta (formerly Gobble Gobble) refused to relent attention, in fact, periodically sending band members into the crowd, once with a black shroud that covered a good half of the audience. A clean, unfussy performance of "Lawn Knives" was the clear highlight of the 45-minute set.

If Born Gold was a circus act, Claire Boucher, under the moniker Grimes, was the antidote. Without a light show or props, the Montreal-based singer relies on her ambient but danceable beats and impressive soprano. A preemptive warning of her sore throat panicked no one and affected the performance only minimally, preventing hyper-octave runs on "Circumambient," which she dismissed with a quick apology and a smile.

Situated between two massive keyboards, Boucher bounced back and forth as she looped rich vocal layering with an infectious energy that never waned throughout her hour-long set. Though she took the stage alone, two songs in she was joined by the members of Born Gold to help her perform what was mainly selections from her January release Visions.

Ranging from the light simplicity of songs like "Genesis" to the bass-laden "Eight," the 23-year old demonstrated an understanding of the well-constructed set list, playing to her strengths and showing off just the right amount of live variation within her niche.

Grimes, returning for South by Southwest (she showcased last year as well), could've packed a much larger venue. She's taken the blogosphere by storm, making her one of the most buzzed about acts of the moment. Those lucky few that caught her in such an intimate setting should count themselves lucky.

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Grimes, Claire Boucher, Born Gold, Gobble Gobble, Cecil Frena, Cirque du Soleil

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