Friday, May 27, 2011

Illegally Good Music

I had to buy the tickets on Craigslist, which I really hated doing. I had known that I was interested in going to the show when it was first posted, but for some readily unapparent reason I procrastinated just long enough to hit a “sold out” announcement. This forced me to seek out a ticket on Craigslist, which I managed to find. To pick up the ticket I had to enlist the help of Young Kubrick, who engaged in the illicit ticket buying at a local coffee shop.

The ticket purchase went down with all the drama one would expect from buying a scalped ticket. I received a message later that “the deed is done.” I picked the tickets up during the weekend and put them on the Bard’s fridge door; which is where I pulled them down on Monday night as I ran toward the train to get to the Metro on Clark. Happiness!

When I arrived at the door there were a bunch of people standing about outside, which made me wonder if I was too early. I asked one of the prettily dressed Chicagoans if they were waiting to get in “No, we are trying to get tickets.” I smiled and walked in with my specially purchased Craigslist ticket. A few minutes later I was on the floor, looking for a good place to set up on stage.

As I walked up the stairs I noticed a bunch of signs posted to the wall. The signs said “This show includes intense strobe lights.” Immediately my head was filled with strains from the B-52’s singing and hopping around about in strobe lights.

The floor was nice, sloped a bit so people in the back could still see the stage; however, there was also a balcony overlooking the stage. I liked balconies; I liked looking down upon the stage when I knew sold-out shows were going to be packed. I was starting to feel an oncoming clusterphobia that made me want to have less people pressed into my back. By the stage there was already a press of people, and I didn't want to be more pressed. Over the stage, it was also already crowded, but there was a small corner toward the end of the balcony. I made myself at home and waited for the show.

The lights faded out. Blackness fell over us. It was dark.

The crowd thrummed; the crowd was thrumming. I could feel the collected heartbeats of three hundred people all waiting for the same thing. There was the subtle stamping of feet. Red lights on the stage, a red haze; black sheer gauze blowing on the stage in the fans keeping the room cool. She took the stage, a slim lanky blonde. She whispered softly into the microphone “I’m Grimes.” And then hit flashing buttons on her electronic machine.

The machine flashed with orange lights and starts to make the most entrancing electronic music. The solid technical grooves that help the mind to slide away into an ethereal ocean of dancing and moving and subtle smooth hypnosis of groove. I slid off the balcony and into her music; into the swimming drinking, wonderful lovely sounds.

This was a truly wonderful and purely ethereal musical discovery. The sort of lovely happenstance that was so wonderful about going to live shows, the chance to hear something for the first time and be surprised and overcome by something so special and new. Grimes is definitely an artist to watch.

She jumped around the stage, singing and swishing through her grooves, a one-woman musical show. Her machines were well programmed, with backup vocals, loops, drums, chants, and musical knowledge. The crowd was in love with her and we all swished around and lost ourselves as we started to sway with the sounds. She embodied awesomeness; so was lovely that we almost called for an encore, but she was not the show we are all here to see.

We were here to see Lykke Li, Swedish indie-pop singer, and one of the most interesting musical techno-pop artists I’d heard in a while. The stage was draped in black gauze. The floor suddenly were completely dark. The room was in blackness.

And then the strobe lights went off. The pulse into the darkness blinded us all for a moment. There were several quick pulses of bright quick light, blanking out the mind. They stopped and I could still see the trails of the strobe light. The trails stayed with me for a moment and then pulsed on again. The band entered during the black-out period, and then Lykke Li herself was on stage. Draped in pretty black gauze, pulling onto the microphone. She let her voice go. Lykke's lovely ethereal, transcendent voice filled the entire room. What I liked the most about her was that her voice was real. She wasn't singing everything through auto-tune. The voice wasn't coming at us pre-recorded so she could dance along. (She wasn't even a very good dancer.) Her music, her voice, was what she brought to the stage. And she brought it well.

The intense pulsing of the strobe lights moved in rhythm to the music flashing on and off as Lykke swayed on the stage. No dramatic dance routine, no crazy stage antics, just pure singing, beautiful, musical genius. Perfect.

It didn't hurt that the very first song she performed also happened to be one of my favorites off her most recent album. She sang a tight set. The audience stomped and jumped and swirled with her, heartbeat imitated by feet on the floor, thump, thump, thump, sound.

As she hit the encore I gave up my spot to the couple behind me, the girls being happy to get close at last and ran downstairs so I could do my customary merch run, and get out and back for some sleep. I bought a copy of Grimes's CD on my way out the door. As I climbed the stairs to the train it was nothing but Lykke Li, her strobe lights still pulsing behind my eyelids, and the twinkling light of Chicago thrumming to her beat.


Doc Merrkin said...

I get the sense that you are happy to be back in Chicago...

Saradevil said...

I made a promise to myself that when I go back to Chicago from long stretches from now on that I will refuse to be less then stupid busy and never ever bored. So far so good. Korea, however, is on the flip. A countdown is already underway for leaving on a jet plane.