St. Vincent is the musical moniker of art rock singer and guitar chemist, Annie Clark. On Clark’s latest self-titled album, released earlier this year, she inflated her persona from a incredibly talented pop artist to a grey-haired queen, seated atop her bizarre theatrical rock throne, not unlike the one on her latest album cover. Naturally, this god-like transformation garnered comparison to David Bowie’s 70’s space alien character, Ziggy Stardust. Yesterday, I got the chance to see Clark perform live, and with big theatrical rock shoes to fill, she had much to prove. Enjoy.
If Ziggy Stardust was an alien space explorer from mars, than St. Vincent is his new-age robot counterpart. During the songs “Huey Newton,” “Bring Me Your Loves,” and “Birth in Reverse,” Clark glitched around the stage with her rhythm guitarist in perfect unison. Marching about, shifting their bodies, and joining heads, the two mirrored each other’s motions like robots from Chuck E Cheese. Even on her own, Clark rarely broke character while performing. She continued to tick her body parts in quick, precise jolts, all the while, holding the same stoic facial expression.
Entertainment is in Clark’s programming, and with tracks spanning her four solo albums, last night’s set did just that. Her guitar virtuoso shined through on every song, but absolutely stunned me with the psych-funk solo during “Prince Johnny” and the fuzz assaults on “Cheerleader” and “Huey Newton.” Vocally, the night goes to the heavenly sacrilegious “I Prefer Your Love.” The lyrics of Clark preferring her mother’s admiration to Christ created a beautifully touching atmosphere. But for Clark, this was just written in her circuits.
Bluesman Jack White has contested that each live show should feel unrehearsed and unique; you should never tell the same joke twice, because the audience will feel the authenticity. St. Vincent obviously doesn’t follow this line of thinking. Everything felt rehearsed and choreographed. Her chats with the audience were few in numbers and brief, but felt like monologues in a play. Some may say this takes away from Clark’s performance, but I think it added an artistic beauty to the evening. Upon returning to the stage for a solo performance of “Strange Mercy,” she stood atop an elevated platform, with one spotlight refracting off her guitar. It was the show’s most intimate moment and felt like a Shakespearean actor performing the death monologue from Hamlet.
If you missed the show, you can listen to the entire setlist bellow: