The Spin entered Mercy Lounge for Grimes last night and encountered something we’d never encountered in the venue before: piano concertos as house music. We were told the classed-up sounds were at the behest of the artist, though the 30 or so people already glommed up to the stage for the Canadian dream popper hardly seemed to notice or care. We were also told Mercy's fog machine was fully stocked on “fog juice” for the night, which is typically a good sign.
While classical music was raging in the main hall, the Mercy back bar was airing the Presidential debates, and a rotating cast of 20 or so showgoing wonks seemed to appreciate the thought. The segue from erudite house music to politics made us want to trade in the beer and cigarettes for a brandy and cigar: It was an unusual mood to start the night with.
We perused the merch table while openers Myths were up. They're a droney female dance duo with a heavy art-school vibe, which is neither an endorsement nor a judgment call, and their bass rattled our feet through the floor. The merch was more interesting, to be honest: We were told there were vagina rings for sale (“Rings for your vagina?” “No, rings with vaginas on them”). Never turn down lookin’ at vagina rings, our grandma always said. The people who liked Myths seemed to really, really like it, but we eventually wandered back into The Politics Den.
Solo act Elite Gymnastics went a full minute covering the Spice Girls classic “Say You’ll Be There” before we even noticed what he was doing. It was an almost spoken-word piece, accompanied with a parasol, that came off like an apathetic drag show. The harmonica solo was huff-and-puff Alanis style; we found it enraging. It’s entirely possible that our profound love of the Spice Girls is clouding our judgment, but please take pop music seriously. The cover gave the impression of a man who wanted to play with the idea of femininity without coming off as camp, and severely misfired and ended up as mocking. Again: Please take pop music seriously.
Grimes, though! The fog juice was really going to work before she took to the stage, prompting a rando dude near us to note, “It smells like laser tag in here.” (Aside to rando dude: Sorry you caught us referring to you as “rando dude” in our notes. You were a total champ about it.) Grimes at last took to the stage with a couple of backup folks who, for all the world, looked like Diva Plavalaguna (the blue opera-singing alien from The Fifth Element) thanks to the blue lighting and sheer body-covering veils. Grimes, meanwhile, visually reminded us of that chick from NCIS while she vocally reminded us of a Furby. The biggest difference, though, between the headliner and the openers is, even though they’re all operating in the same ethereal pop world, Grimes hashes out better melodies and pays attention to creating eventual beats. The crowd’s dancing slowly morphed from the sort of apathetic swaying last seen in the Hullabalooza episode of The Simpsons to that of people legitimately enjoying themselves. People enjoying themselves — what a concept. That’s what happens when you take pop music seriously.