Live // Grimes

10/11/12 was a fine night indeed for music lovers of all ages to see a show in San Diego. The xx played a sold-out set at Soma, wünderkid DJs Porter Robinson and Zedd catered to a 16+ arena at Petco Park, and Grimes — one of the Arcade’s very favorites of 2012 — performed at the unassuming Porter’s Pub, nestled in between a Physical Sciences building and some eucalyptus trees smack-dab in the middle of the University of California, San Diego. We chose to attend the latter, and were not disappointed.

A light rain, the very first of the season for San Diego dwellers, drizzled down on the indoor/outdoor venue as young Grimes (née Claire Boucher) took to the tiny petal-scattered stage on the college campus. She was accompanied by MYTHS, two equally elfin and Canadian backup singer/keyboardist/interpretive dancers, wearing what seemed to be day-glow painted 80’s workout onesies under gauzy iridescent shrouds. Attempting a “new thing” by wearing in ear headphones, Boucher apologized in her adorable lisp if she seemed weird… as if her fans would want it any other way.

A good 75 percent of the all-ages sold-out crowd — mostly female, but a good showing of gay guys — sported hair in colors that would make a My Little Pony envious. They screamed and sang along to the more upbeat, melodic favorites like “Vanessa” and “Genesis.” Minus the spotlight on the token disco ball, lights stayed dim as Boucher twitched and jumped wearing what looked like a floor-length nightgown covered in celestial print. The 24-year-old’s live performance has significantly improved since SXSW — particularly vocals-wise — on account of nonstop touring for the past six-plus months.

“…hey hey wanna play well baby i can go go / and every other day you’re running off the phone, no…”

“We’re actually here for Grimes. We actually listen to her. These people just go to school here,” a blonde 10th-grader (really, I asked) in Pepto-pink leggings told me, an equally blonde boy attached around her neck.

In fact, most seemed too young even to be attending college, especially the girls in the front row who spent most of the hour-long set being smashed against the flimsy barricade. Pushing got to the point where Boucher had to cut all music and come up from behind the flower-adorned speakers, synths, and keyboards to ask people not to push and “be respectful of the small people, please!”

Things got really turnt up when breakout hit “Oblivion” came on, and I don’t just mean the blacklights. Some crowd surfing started, people attempted semi-moshing, and the barricade became dangerously strained to the point of breaking. Unfortunately, Boucher had to stop her show several more times worried that the girls in the front were seriously in trouble. And with good reason — a tiny girl came up to me side stage, sniveling in a security jacket five times her size. “I broke a couple fingers,” she said, saying she had been smashed in between a pillar and the gate. I tried to cheer her up by giving props for having the balls to stay and see the end of the show — can’t say it worked though.

While the venue was an unfortunate choice and there were definitely too many security issues for a crowd of mostly 17-year-old Tumblr-chic chicks, Boucher somehow stayed ethereal, magnetic and charismatic, while simultaneously being real, quirky, and awkward — clearly a star-making combination, given her teenaged fan base. She stuttered something about “like, hating, like, encores” and began her last song, an upbeat number we didn’t recognize — brand new, perhaps? We should’ve asked that blonde 10th-grader.

“Have a good fucking night!” she stammered at the end, literally tangled up in her microphone cord. It was undeniably adorable.

Catch the second half of the Mythical Gymnastics tour in these upcoming cities:

10/15 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR

10/19 – Saits The Gateway – Calgary, AB

10/20 – Louis Pub – Saskatoon, SK

10/22 – Varsity Theater – Minneapolis, MN

10/25 – MHOW – Brooklyn, NY

10/26 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY

10/27 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY

10/28 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY

Thank you to photographer Steven Levas for shooting the scene, and writer Marie Cravens for taking us there.