Grimes apologizes for disastrous Coachella set

Canadian singer and electronic music visionary Grimes, known offstage as Claire Boucher, faced a whirlwind of technical malfunctions during her anticipated performance at the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This weekend’s event turned into a challenging spectacle for Grimes, who was compelled to issue an apology following the tumultuous set.

Grimes Coachella
Source: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Grimes took to social media platform X, previously known as Twitter, to express her regrets over the mishap. “I want to apologize for the technical issues with the show tonight,” she wrote, highlighting the departure from her usual hands-on approach to managing her performance details. This time, she had outsourced certain elements, such as the rekordbox bpm’s and the organization of tracks on the SD card, which are critical for the seamless execution of her music that blends elements of synthpop and techno.

During her set, the audience witnessed firsthand the impact of these technical difficulties. Videos circulating on social media show a visibly frustrated Grimes screaming and repeatedly stopping her tracks. She explained to the crowd that all her tracks were playing at “double the tempo,” making it impossible to mix them correctly, thereby disrupting her performance flow. The ordeal culminated in Grimes leaving the stage abruptly, mid-way through her popular track “Genesis.”

Media outlets like Variety reported on the incident, describing the scene as “sonic chaos.” Grimes herself acknowledged the severity of the issues in her apology, stating that the experience was like “trying to guess how stuff was sounding for you guys,” an attempt to empathize with her audience’s experience.

The reaction online was mixed, with some social media users expressing sympathy for what they dubbed the “musician’s version of nightmares.” However, others were less forgiving, criticizing Grimes for seeming unprepared for one of the year’s largest music festivals.

Learning from the tumultuous experience, Grimes assured her fans that she would take personal charge of the preparations for her next performance. “I will personally organize all the files next week,” she stated, promising a flawless show for the festival’s second weekend. She also shared her determination to prevent such a disaster from happening again, noting that she had spent months preparing the music and visuals for the show and was understandably upset by the malfunction.

Despite the setback, the incident sheds light on the complex nature of live electronic music performances, where artists rely heavily on technology that, if not meticulously checked, can lead to major disruptions. It also highlights the pressures artists face when performing at high-profile events like Coachella, where expectations are immensely high.

Grimes’ experience serves as a poignant reminder of the vulnerability artists face in the live setting, juxtaposed against their often highly polished studio work. It also underscores the importance of thorough preparation and the potential pitfalls of outsourcing critical components of a live performance.

As the dust settles, Grimes’ fans and critics alike will be watching closely to see how she rebounds in her upcoming performances. If anything, this incident has reinforced her commitment to her craft and her resolve to ensure that her vision for her performances is fully realized, leaving no room for error.