Live review: Grimes with Born Gold and Dog Bite at the Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta, 3/5/12
The Drunken Unicorn may not be a place one would choose for a relaxing night out on the town. For the typical music connoisseur, this may be a venue of a less-than-favorable comfort level. First of all, the place is nearly impossible to find, GPS or not. Once you actually get there, good luck locating the entrance. It’s a dark descent down concrete steps into the small doorway. The interior is tiny – almost too small for any band. An annex space is taken up by a nice bar.
Once the show began, the smoky and hot room became very crowded. But when an act is good enough, this is all worth it. Grimes (born Claire Boucher) is a Canadian wondergirl who appears to be master of her domain. The cute and down-to-earth musician handles the gig box – complete with Mac and effects machines – with her left hand, while keeping up on the synth with her right. When not singing, the mic is securely stuck between chin and shoulder. All this plus a dreamy voice helped the mostly male fan club forget about the undesireable venue conditions.
Touring in support of her new release Visions (4AD), Grimes is a consumate performer, constantly talking to the crowd and explaining how this didn’t sound right or sorry for that. Things that no one would notice without her self-deprecating style of pointing them out. The new critically acclaimed Visions provided much content for this too-short set. “Oblivion” and the excellent “Genesis” were big hits. For the more complex tunes, Born Gold joined Grimes onstage.
While the set was short, the scene was intense. It was a good night for Grimes, who is continuing on the tour with a stopover at SXSW and then on to several European dates beginning in May.
Listen to Grimes: “Genesis”
Atlanta’s Dog Bite is the brainchild of former Washed Out collaborator Phil Jones. With his self-described folk/surf/trance sound, the boys warmed up the crowd nicely. After coming off a tour, he had the desire to record more of his own songs. With the absence of the required chillwave computer, he used his guitar and went through the process.
With an amalgam of pop, rock, indie and chill, Dog Bite has a unique and intriguing sound. Be on the lookout for the upcoming LP Velvet Changes.
Listen to Dog Bite: “Prettiest Pills”
Up next was the three ring circus of fellow Canadians Born Gold. This was like no other live experience around. Cecil Frena, formerly using the name Gobble Gobble, put on a mindblowing show that ranks right up there with Cirque du Soleil. Seriously. Beginning with his biker jacket covered in lights (which seemed to be controlled by his movements and read through a Mac). Attached gloves also reacted to motion, and looked like something out of the Iron Man movie.
With a fine release last year entitled Bodysongs (Hovercraft), Frena has crafted some wonderful music that is only surpassed by its presentation. On his Facebook page, he has described himself/his music this way: “I’M A CASKET DANCER, TAPPING OUT TOE MORSE TO THE THIRSTY SILENCE.” That explains it perfectly. If you don’t get it, then you get it.
Frena’s two minions have been trained to conform to the insanity. If they’re not standing on the small stage facing the crowd holding two black hand fans (that would light up frequently) while wearing black masks (ala Black Swan) – they’re walking through the sardine-packed crowd on stilts while playing what looked like a shovel (though it did possess much electronic prowess). Needless to say, it was a show. If you EVER get the chance to see Born Gold, you must do it. Your life really may depend on it.