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Review: St. Vincent at The Stage 5/31

June 1st, 2012 -

Photos by Subculture

Annie Clark, the New York City-based singer/songwriter, better known by her stage name, St. Vincent. Clark, who had long spent the gestational phase of her musical career relishing in the sense of quiet anonymity afforded to her by her involvement in Tim Delaughter’s massive choral symphonic pop rock group, The Polyphonic Spree, had concealed the sort of talent, that in the hands of a performer of less humility, would have resulted in music replete with emboldened ostentation.

She avoids the pitfalls that seem to wrench themselves in the paths of artists of comparable talent, always maintaining her considerable sincerity in her music, and never straying toward sanctimony. Clark has always bore her inner-most convictions, hopes, wants, fears – leaving no aspect of her subconscious self to scrutiny in any of the recordings she has produced. Constantly honing her ability to introspectively probe and dissect her own thoughts and desires with her charming croon and bitingly intelligent verses, Annie Clark shows no indication of any sort of decline.

Last night at The Stage, a sweltering plume of humidity captured and encapsulated a diffusely-scattered throng of hipsters, all uniformly eccentric in manner of dress, yet equitably enthused in their relentless anticipation for the innovative performer poised to take the stage in those impending hours. Locally-based outfit, Awesome New Republic, warmed up the stage with their droning synthesizers, truncating themselves with whirring persistence against the powerful guitar flourishes, and vocalist Michael-John Hancock’s tremendously emotive voice; billowing from a piercing growl, to a mellifluous wail, as they delivered a blend of rock that was not only danceable, but showed much in the way of an influence from 1960s psychedellia. ANR shows every indication of having the talent transcend the billowing veil of obscurity that tends to drape locally-based performers.

As soon as Annie Clark’s band took their positions on the stage, the gorgeously slender and waifish chanteuse scampered out as well, straddling the microphone, guitar in hand. She greeted the audience with the warmth of individual addressing friends, rather than a room full of strangers – a nervous stammer undercutting her voice, endearing her to everyone in attendance. Clark belted out her meandering, serpentine ballads; the whole time carving out some truly impressive chords on her guitar, in a manner less technical in precision than it was an act of abstract expressionism. The warmth of the musical accompaniments clashed harmoniously with the, at times, ominous undertones of her lyricism, and vice-versa. Part of what makes St. Vincent’s music so compelling is the frankness with which Annie Clark is able to convey the insecurity that belies her exterior beauty. She gave great insight into the thematic implications of her songs with her many asides on the microphone – speaking about her dichotomous love/hate relationship with where she came from as being the impetus for her penning of the song “Dilettante.” Clark does what so few performers, female or otherwise, cannot do – channel shades of their brilliant predecessors, such as Kate Bush, Bjork and even Fiona Apple, while never once compromising her singularly unique vision as an artist.

Her energy as a performer became painstakingly obvious in the instance in which she flung herself into the throng of bodies encircling the stage with a sudden leap, brazenly crowd surfing the venue from front to back, legs outstretched in the direction of the ceiling, as she continued to sing the lyrics to “Krokodil.” In the dwindling moments of her two-track encore, Clark harkened back to a track from her debut, Marry Me, reaffirming just how magical her rapport with the audience had been all along, by leading them in a chant of the chorus of “Your Lips Are Red.” The chant echoed resoundingly until Clark parted from the stage, leaving the audience to reflect on that solemn refrain and on a truly masterful performance.

Setlist

“Marrow”
“Cheerleader”
“Chloe in the Afternoon”
“Save Me From What I Want”
“Actor Out Of Work”
“Dilettante”
“Black Rainbow”
“Cruel”
“Surgeon”
“Champagne Year”
“Neutered Fruit”
“Year of the Tiger”
“Northern Lights”
“She Is Beyond Good And Evil” (The Pop Group cover)
“Krokodil”
“You’re Lips Are Red”

 

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