It was hard not to feel some note of triumph in the air at Fortune Sound Club as Montreal's Claire Boucher began her newest tour to support her third album Visions, released the same week to uproarious reception. The show was sold out and the venue quickly filled to almost uncomfortable levels.
Something about the venue seemed appropriate: an early show at what is usually a nightclub, Fortune boasts one of Vancouver's best sound systems—Funktion One-designed—and it made for a good host to an artist with one toe in (odd and quirky) dance music and the other in what I guess you would call "indie." Her choice of opener was equally fitting. Canadian trio Born Gold trade in a sugary sort of dance pop that makes the most of simplicity, much in the same way as Grimes' pixie-dance tunes.
But does that translate to a live performance? Not quite. Memorably clad in outfits rigged with lights that seemed to flash and pulsate with the music, the first thing that seemed apparent about the trio was, well, "gimmick." Though their set began with an intriguing bass-heavy stagger that had something common with dubstep, it quickly devolved into a pandering sort of treacly, all-too-precious pan-dance-genre stew, ending up more generic—particularly with the sickly-sweet vocals on top—than engaging or experimental.
The wait between the opener and headliner felt nearly unbearable, particularly as the show was already running late, but everything was forgiven as Boucher emerged on stage with her keyboard, shyly chatting up the crowd about the new tour she was about to begin. Though her performance felt all too short, it was spot-on: she rarely missed a note and her rickety DIY beats translated well over the club's considerable sound system. The crowd happily ate up poppier numbers like "Vanessa" and "Oblivion," as Boucher gently teased bits of improvisation into her tracks, stretching out intros and outros and instrumental breaks here and there. By the time she ended her set with Visions' "Be A Body" it felt like things were only really getting started.
It's hard to complain when an artist delivers pretty much exactly what you had hoped for but too little of it, but for an emerging artist touring her breakthrough album, one would expect a little more substance from the set. But if anything, Grimes' performance reaffirmed why she deserves so much attention and dialogue, tying together all these strands—different genres, different audiences—and making something eminently populist, and most importantly, fun in the process. All too often cloying, pseudo-twee stuff like this doesn't translate to a live setting, especially a club setting. But Boucher sure knows how to rock that Funktion One.