St. Vincent: Cranky, quirky, anything but fragile

St. Vincent (a.k.a. Annie Clark) brought her eccentric stage show to Union Transfer on Friday.
St. Vincent (a.k.a. Annie Clark) brought her eccentric stage show to Union Transfer on Friday.
Posted: March 04, 2014

Much has changed for Annie Clark, the performer known as St. Vincent, since she played the intimate First Unitarian Church nearly six years ago. In 2008, the singer/guitarist, fresh from stints with the Polyphonic Spree and in Sufjan Stevens' band, was mining a stark, smartly funny yet fragile-sounding solo career in art-pop with a quietly swooping croon and spookily emotive lyrics that made her sound like Kate Bush's daughter.

In the years following, St. Vincent recorded Love This Giant with the ex-Talking Head David Byrne while touring its nervously choreographed stage show, and made buggy albums that entered the Top 20 ( Strange Mercy), all on her own eerily intricate musical terms.

For February 2014, St. Vincent dyed her brown hair silver-lavender, recorded an electrically murky-but-melodic eponymous album, and sold out Union Transfer on Friday with an eccentric stage show.

St. Vincent didn't seem the least bit fragile or shy as she toyed mightily with robot sexuality (the singed vocal FX helped on blipping tunes such as "Bring Me Your Loves"), cranky rhythmic shifts, and quirky dance moves surely gleaned (a bit) from her time with Byrne.

Using the riser-filled stage as prop (one second it's a podium, the next it's a bed) and playing off dancer/Moog player/bassist/thereminist Toko Yasuda, St. Vincent made every moment of her program epically dramatic.

The evening's starters were a great case in point. The chunky, synth-filled "Rattlesnake" found the singer shimmying while oozing her wordy way from freeing sensuality to Impressionistic landscaping ("Follow the power lines back from the road / No one around so I take off my clothes . . . I see the snake holes dotted in the sand / As if Seurat painted the Rio Grande") until she ended it bluntly in a flurry of guitar squawks.

The honking cabaret of "Digital Witness" began with St. Vincent breathily moaning about gnashing teeth and mad confessionals before blankly yelling "yeah" as if she were a selfie-snapping tween.

While many of her souped-up, synth-tipped melodies were catchy-yet-craggily angular ("Northern Lights") and filled with tribal thumps ("Pieta"), so many of St. Vincent's grandest songs - for example, "Laughing With a Mouth of Blood" - could have been John Barry-penned Bond movie themes with their handsomely wind-swept bridges evocative of a shaken-stirred spy chase. After watching St. Vincent eyeball the crowd with steely, sexy-laser focus throughout the show, one thinks perhaps the next 007 could be a girl.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|