Last year Grimes released her new album Art Angels, and I absolutely loved it. It surpassed my adoration of her previous album Visions, which I had listened to over and over again over the last few years. In the six or so months since the release of Art Angels, I’ve listened to it more than I had listened to Visions in all those years; I can’t really understate how much I love this album, and of course, how much I look up to Grimes.
The discovery of Grimes came at a fairly transformative period of life. At the end of my Sophomore year of college I was rebounding academically, doing well and feeling confident in my studies, but I was at one of my lowest points socially. I accidentally crossed a line, probably a few lines; I learned hard lessons, coincidentally started down the path of becoming feminist, and was shown Grimes. “Oblivion” became my most-played song of 2013 and 2014, and somewhere in there “Realiti” and its Southeast-Asian globetrotting music video became another obsession of mine. Being afraid, paranoid, beautiful, daring, brave; I got a lot out of Grimes’ music during this period, and then Art Angels came out. Art Angels came out, and it just so happened to coincide with the completion of a lot of personal stuff for me. It was a banger of an album, and at once beautiful and reflective, it was rebellious, dealt with gender — I felt like I deserved to feel how this album sounded, because I went through all those dramatic changes during my Visions years.
So when Grimes set a concert date in Philadelphia, I had to go. I absolutely had to go. Grimes and my personal evolution are so strongly associated that missing this concert would be like missing my graduation ceremony. So I hopped on a Greyhound bus at 6AM, and made the trek out of Pittsburgh, and into Philadelphia, if only for 22 hours. I completed a Mindy Kaling audiobook, De La Soul’s “3 Feet High and Rising” and a few podcasts along the way, met a Cousin in Rittenhouse Square, and checked in at an Air BnB next to Pat’s King of Steaks. I helped myself to a cheese-steak, but not one from Pat or Geno’s; South Philly Bar & Grill was able to dish out a simple sandwich with provolone (not wiz), onions, and greasy meat, with some plain-tasting fries and a stout to wash it down. I thought the cheese wiz was what gave people stomach problems, but it has to be that greasy thin-cut meat, because I experienced said stomach problems, then hailed an Uber to the Electric Factory.
What followed was an extraodinary concert… with less a extraordinary crowd. Half the crowd was polite, tiny, leaning-towards queer/genderqueer style and presentation, the types of people I’d love to surround myself with at a concert like this. The other half? People who do what it takes to reach the front of the crowd, even if it squeezes everyone tight like sardines, huge tall bros who start fights, and people who were just flat-out rude assholes.
But I digress, because the people on the stage made the night, not the people in the crowd. Hana, Grimes, and her dancers killed it. Hana has a Lorde-esque thing going on, I’d have to listen to the record in person to get more specific than that, but she’s got a good stage presence, and I’m glad she stuck around to play with Grimes. And Grimes herself? Cute! Kind of like Bjork in the way she carries herself on stage; masterful execution of your work, but at the same time, that hundreds of people are cheering for you can make you blush. She danced the way I expected, she screamed, she sang, and she made funny, awkward chit-chat between songs. I could go on more, but, here I think it’s the journey that matters more than the destination. It started over three years ago; the Greyhound to Philly was just a milestone on that journey, the concert, just another amazing milestone.
And now? Now we go home to Pittsburgh (I’m actually writing this ON the Greyhound back) we have ~4 hours to go, but I’ve got Grimes on my back.