Grimes Plays 'Scream' With Aristophanes for First Time, Leaves New York Crowd Wanting More

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for American Eagle

The Canadian alt-star makes a graceful turn to the mainstream on excellent new album. 

There’s no one quite like Grimes, and she leaves us wanting more. Art Angels -- released Nov. 6 -- is a flabbergasting pop cocktail rife with sonic discord that somehow settles into her long-awaited masterstroke. It already sounds like a front-runner for many year-end best-of-2015 lists. Those at New York’s terminally overcrowded three thousand-capacity Terminal 5 last night (Nov. 16) got to hear only four of those songs, exactly one less than the amount of tracks the artist born Claire Boucher played off the 2012 precursor, Visions. Grimes writes the script here. 

Was there outrage? Discontent? Not exactly -- Grimes could have played her rejected-by-Rihanna, twisted EDM banger “Go” four times, “Ni**as in Paris” style, and still gotten more total hands in the air than most of the alt-rock and alt-pop acts that come through Terminal 5. When she did play “Go” -- along with her other BloodPop (formerly Blood Diamonds) collaboration “Phone Sex” -- the formidable pit crowd did boast one third the frenzy of a Skrillex audience, with enough entertainment onstage to make up the difference. Rather than go for the band look (like so many of her left-of-center pop peers) Grimes, since touring on Visions, has enlisted a dancing troupe to bring the songs to life. The moves went beyond the choreo most of the crowd could’ve pulled off dancing to Art Angels in their bedrooms, which fit the D.I.Y.-gone-dance tent aesthetic well. Besides, Boucher spent much of the set at an electronic set-up towards the starry sky backdrop at the stage’s rear, manipulating the sounds and samples that took up the band-less sonic space.

Watch Grimes perform “Scream” with Aristophanes:


#?? #Grimes #Scream #?? #Taiwan

A video posted by ??? | Xiangyu (@xyzrap) on


Back to the defiance of logic that is a Grimes live set. Boucher nixed both “Flesh Without Blood,” Art Angels’ first music video, and “California,” the album’s best shot at a radio single. Four Art Angels songs were played, and Grimes made them count.

Most notably, Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes came onstage to perform her Art Angels collab “Scream” live for the first time, while Boucher screamed herself, and very well at that. Janelle Monae was not on hand for “Venus Fly” as she was the previous show in Atlanta, but Terminal 5’s borderline-pain-inducing bass levels, intentional or not, filled the void. “Realiti” got the sleek dance vibes going again, and to end the night, “Kill V. Maim’s” repurposed nu metal guitars hit hard, especially since the crowd was channeling three or four surprisingly unplayed songs' worth of energy into one last gasp.

Grimes Shares Cover From 'Bro Art'-Inspired 'Art Angels' Album

Boucher announced the song was technically an encore but since “too much social anxiety” deters from her doing traditional encores, the crowd would have to make do. Just after “Kill V. Maim,” much of the energy lingered in the air, as such an abrupt ending to a relatively short set seemed improbable. But then again, Boucher was performing with a brace on her right foot, admitted she was battling the flu, and had performed the same puzzling set on all previous tour dates. Is she waiting to perfect her onstage routine before busting out a fine-tuned, world-beating live version of “Flesh Without Blood”? In the world of Grimes, fans have learned to enjoy going off the script. Could that song land her on radio? Will the delayed vinyl release of Art Angels next month include a secret bonus album?  Could her Roc Nation management be planning opening slots on the next Beyoncé tour? At this point, anything seems possible. 

Here is the set list from the show:

Venus Fly
Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)
Scream (feat. Aristophanes) 
Be a Body
Phone Sex
Kill V. Maim