Tag Archives: Annie Clark

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St. Vincent Shines Bright at Kings Theatre on Sunday Night

December 4th, 2017

St. Vincent – Kings Theatre – December 3, 2017


It’s been a decade since Annie Clark, better known by her stage name St. Vincent, released her debut album, Marry Me. In the span of 10 years, she’s released four more albums, not including Love This Giant, the collaborative record with David Byrne. Her latest, Masseduction, has St. Vincent revealing what she’s admitted is her most personal work, “I told you more than I would tell my mother.” After a breakup with model Cara Delevingne, Clark confessed she is in “deep nun mode,” focusing her energies into work promoting the album and touring. The enigmatic artist played the second of two sold-out shows at Kings Theatre on Sunday night.

Clark’s short film, The Birthday Party, precluded the performance, as a breadcrumb to the evening’s unveiling. The cinematic piece is all about the reveal. Beginning with “Marry Me,” Clark took her position to the left of stage with the curtain drawn ever so to the right. With each passing song through her back catalog, the curtain slowly opened to fully showcase a V-shaped setup with the singer at its center. The audience rose to their feet on “Cruel,” and remained so for the entirety of the show. The singer really seems to have found a home in New York City, and offered “where all the freaks come to be alright” to the crowd before barreling into “Digital Witness.”

There was a brief interlude for a wardrobe change and for a platform to be added to the stage before the latest album was played in order. Clark traded in a hot pink patent-leather bodysuit with matching thigh-high boots for a silver dress and sea-foam green armbands. Recent singles “Pills,” “Los Ageless” and “New York” commanded the strongest response, especially for the latter. Clarke personalized lyrics for Brooklyn, singing “Brooklyn isn’t Brooklyn without you, love/ Too few of our old crew left on Flatbush/ And if I call you from Graham Avenue.” Imposing video footage largely curated by collaborator Willo Perron framed the guitarist throughout the evening, further highlighting her command of the stage as unparalleled. No band. Just her. On the evening of the supermoon, it was arguable what shown greatest. —Sharlene Chiu


Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | dac.photography

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An Electric, Captivating Performance from St. Vincent

February 27th, 2014

St. Vincent – Terminal 5 – February 26, 2014

St. Vincent - Terminal 5 - February 26, 2014
At the beginning of St. Vincent’s sold-out show at Terminal 5 last night, concertgoers were greeted by a robotic voice emanating from the darkened stage. It had a simple request: “Please refrain from digitally capturing your experience.” Moments later Annie Clark and her band were in the midst of an electrifying performance of “Rattlesnake,” the opening song from St. Vincent’s new self-titled record. As she sang, Clark engaged in a precise, deliberate dance, at once assertive, coy, delicate and mechanical. Bowing her head as her guitar was presented to her, Clark finished the song with a shrieking guitar solo amid a bombardment of strobes—those in the crowd no doubt itching to capture the visual experience on their devices, but to the robot’s approval (mostly), refraining … for now.

The larger issue Clark may have been getting at with the show’s robotic introduction was perhaps revealed in the tongue-in-cheek lyrics of the next song, “Digital Witness,” in which she asks, “What’s the point of even sleeping/ If I can’t show it/ You can’t see me?/ What’s the point of doing anything?” Clark and Co. seemed poised to prove that a digital witness shouldn’t validate our experience, and last night’s well-crafted, cohesive performance was undoubtedly engrossing enough to captive a digitally addicted audience for a couple of hours, smartphones languishing in pockets. New songs like “Birth in Reverse,” “Regret” and “Prince Johnny” were slick and sonically textured, and performed with more mechanical-graceful choreography and Clark’s utmost focus and intensity.

Clark danced, shredded her guitar and occasionally climbed and writhed atop the large, tiered platform center stage—at one point, slowly rolling her body down the stairs until she lay splayed, upside down, staring out at the crowd—the most arresting vision of the night. As with her unique staging, Clark also didn’t settle for ordinary stage banter. “We have things in common we don’t realize yet,” announced St. Vincent between songs, in a cryptic, David Lynch-ian manner. Among them: “Sometimes, when you look at your limbs, you think, are these really my limbs?” Ending the show with “Your Lips Are Red,” she processed and manipulated her own vocals until they were just as otherworldly and robotic as the opening introduction. It was a nice, full-circle ending to a captivating performance that surely justified a reduction of digital exposure. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com

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A Simple Twist of Fate

July 1st, 2013

David Byrne and St. Vincent – The Capitol Theatre – June 29, 2013


Do you believe in fate? For me, a series of chance encounters over the years has led to a live performance by the collaborative pair David Byrne and St. Vincent. Back in May 2009, I spotted Byrne in the rafters of Webster Hall enjoying Annie Clark’s guitar prowess in support of her sophomore release, Actor. Fast-forward two years, the starstruck folks ahead of me in line for a James Blake show at Le Poisson Rouge were gushing about a walk-by encounter with Byrne and Clark. And Saturday night at the grand Capitol Theatre, a belated musical date started with the delicate chirping of birds welcoming audience members to their seats and spotlights framing several brass instruments strewn across the stage.

Filing in, a noticeably blonde Clark joined a headset-donning Byrne as horns blared on the opening number, “Who.” The evening intermixed songs from their joint effort, Love This Giant, with Talking Heads and St. Vincent standards. Heavily produced with playful choreography by Annie-B Parson, the brass band along with Byrne formed lines as if ready for a roll call on “Weekend in the Dust.” Clark spent most of her time shimmying back and forth across the open floor, toting her electric guitar. Byrne offered his own dance moves with some soft-shoe on “I Am an Ape.” As if stripped from the trash-compactor scene in Star Wars, Clark was walled in by the band moving dangerously closer and closer as she sang-spelled, “H-E-L-P, Help me, help me” on the strobe-light-inducing “Marrow.”

Byrne ditched his blazer to reveal suspenders on “Ice Age” and demonstrated his skills on the bugle. He called on Clark to join him front and center for “Like Humans Do,” to which she jokingly inquired, “What did we win?” But in all seriousness upon concluding “Lightning,” she sincerely remarked, “We’re superglad to be here.” And judging from the vocal responses from the crowd, so were those in attendance. Byrne revealed that “Wild Wild Life” was originally written for a video karaoke contest before everyone in the band joined in on the Talking Heads favorite, each singing a line from the song. For more fun, everyone but Clark lay down on the stage as she slowly crooned “Cheerleader.” Later she would battle against Byrne playing the theremin on “Northern Lights.” And saving the best for last, the pair returned for not one, but two encores, treating the audience to “Cruel,” “Burning Down the House,” “The Party” and “Road to Nowhere.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Two Chances to See David Byrne and St. Vincent

June 11th, 2013

It’s a word that’s used far too much, and all too often when it doesn’t really apply. But there’s no way around it: David Byrne is a genius—first as the frontman of the groundbreaking Talking Heads and then as a solo artist, record-label head, producer, artist, writer and director. It basically comes down to this: If David Byrne’s doing something, you should be paying attention. His newest endeavor finds him teamed up with singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark (better known as St. Vincent). Their album, the highly acclaimed Love the Giant (stream it below) came out last September, followed by a short tour. But fortunately for us, the collaboration turned out not to be a one-off. Because the two (above, performing “I Should Watch TV” on Late Show with David Letterman) recently released a free EP, Brass Tactics—highlighted by a terrific live version of “Road to Nowhere”—and are now back out on the road again. See them tomorrow at The Wellmont Theatre, and then again at The Capitol Theatre on 6/29.

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The National Play Hometown Show at the Biggest Venue in Brooklyn

June 6th, 2013

The National – Barclays Center – June 5, 2013


Last fall, New York magazine wondered if Brooklyn was finished. The cover story featured Barclays Center, a veritable spaceship of urban development that landed at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. But the arena as a new Brooklyn icon wasn’t truly finished until the National, a band whose Midwestern-displacement story mirrors many of the borough’s residents, took to its stage last night. As their fans—a bearded and craft-brew-swilling demographic hybrid of DIY and yuppie—clapped along, the band, avatars of Kings County’s mixture of aspiration and crooked shame, opened with “Don’t Swallow the Cap,” the sound of everything Brooklyn could and couldn’t be.

The early part of the set saw the National run through material from their latest, Trouble Will Find Me, mixed with songs from their previous two records, High Violet and Boxer. Playing “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Mistaken for Strangers” and “Sea of Love” (before which they facetiously said, “We’ve played 35 venues in this city, and it’s great to be back here where it all started”), the National proved to be in sharp and slicing form, tumbling tom-tom drums colliding with Matt Berninger’s graveled baritone. The quintet then performed “Sorrow,” which they “knew better than any other” song, after playing it for six straight hours straight as performance art at MoMA PS1 just a few weeks ago. Somewhere someone bit into an artisanal sausage and washed it down with an IPA just as the song about being absolutely miserable forever rang through the rafters. It was Brooklyn, old and new, misery and joy, on display in the same moment for the band, clad in black and backed by a string and horn section.

Following a run of “Squalor Victoria” and “I Need My Girl,” the National ripped through “Graceless,” the down-tempo “Pink Rabbits” and “England.” The crowd waited for one of the five-piece’s signature tunes and perhaps the night’s defining moment, “Fake Empire,” a song ostensibly about the terrible mistakes of the second Bush administration but could just as easily have been applied to the coterminous power and hypocrisy of Brooklyn’s rise to cultural prominence. The band and their fans sang the title lyric with real vigor, staying out sort of late on a weeknight in the moment when Brooklyn found nothing left to do or prove. —Geoff Nelson

Photos courtesy of Brian C. Reilly | www.briancreilly.com

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A Perfect Performance

September 26th, 2012

David Byrne and St. Vincent – Beacon Theatre – September 25, 2012

Two years ago, David Byrne gave a lecture in Brooklyn titled “Creation in Reverse,” a warm-up for his presentation at TED Talks. His thesis boiled down to the claim that music is determined by context—that is, the venue where music will be played influences and shapes the songwriting process. At the time, as a member of the audience, I was skeptical. Byrne’s argument seemed to have a misguided premise that didn’t sit right with me. I understand music to come from emotional states, rather than careful analytical thought, and Byrne was saying the exact opposite.

Two years later, sitting in the three-tiered, high-ceilinged and ornate Beacon Theatre, it all came together. Byrne and his latest collaborator, Annie Clark, known by the stage name St. Vincent, played each other’s music as well as songs from their excellent new album, Love This Giant. The project features plenty of horns, which serves as a glue and counterpoint to their distinct styles. And in the sprawling theater, the two brought an eight-piece brass section, along with a drummer and keyboardist, which reflected a level of forethought I didn’t think possible: They made and executed the perfect performance for the space.

Every detail of the show seemed planned for a maximal audience experience. Byrne, Clark and their band dressed in slightly varied arrangements of formal black-and-white clothing. They moved together and separately in choreographed patterns. It was visually striking in addition to being sonically engaging. But the greatest pleasure was definitely the sound—towering vocals with Byrne’s signature falsetto and phrasing complemented by Clark’s airy harmonies, her glitchy, menacing guitar solos and huge swells of orchestral horns.

Byrne’s Talking Heads classic “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” had all the charm and original sweetness of the original but with bounciness from the new arrangement. Clark’s recent singles “Cruel” and “Cheerleader” retained their off kilter yet melodic power, but with a largess befitting the night and space: Because this space and this night were special. Although the band could have easily stopped after playing “Burning Down the House” for the first encore, they came back and finished with “Road to Nowhere.” It was emotional to hear the song in the context of the night, capping off such a monumental performance. They finished and took a final bow. Those in the crowd, who had been on their feet since the first encore, roared with applause. It was over, and we knew it. But to finish, they walked out playing a little reappraisal. The band played on. —Jared Levy

(David Byrne and St. Vincent play the Beacon Theatre tonight.)

Photo courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

(After three years as a House List contributor, Jared Levy is headed to New Zealand. Follow his blog, Playtonic Dialogues, and find him on Twitter: @Playtonic.)

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St. Vincent – Webster Hall – May 20, 2009

May 21st, 2009

St. Vincent - Webster Hall - May 20, 2009

Remember Annie? The redheaded rapscallion who sang about bottom dollars? Annie Clark is not that Annie. If “The sun will come out” Annie is high-fructose-corn-syrup sweet, Clark, doing business as St. Vincent, is a whiskey sour: smooth and sharp with plenty of bite. Opening with “Black Rainbow,” off her just-released album, Actor, St. Vincent spent the night bouncing back and forth between a two-headed microphone, each giving her a different “voice.” This was perfect, because she’s got a full-fledged Dr Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on. One moment the music was polished and arching, dominated by Clark’s vocals and then, without warning, as it was during the opener, it explodes into a cacophony of guitar shredding. Yes, she still shreds.

From there Clark went through most of the album, including a solo stint on “Oh God,” referred to jokingly as a “deep cut.” At times things were a bit rough. It’s apparent that the chemistry between St. Vincent and her band—featuring four guys playing everything from bass guitar to clarinet—is still in development. It’s just the second show of the tour, so expect some growth.

My question is where did all these people come from? It’s like some stop-motion flip book: One moment you’re standing in an empty Mercury Lounge in wonderment at the music coming out of this diminutive woman, then flip, flip, flip you’re at the back of a packed Webster Hall, craning to catch a glimpse of her Gibson. Unfortunately, the energy from the stage often dissipated in the room before it reached me.

The encore was easily the highlight, ending with a retooled “Lips Are Red” that was the pitch-perfect blend of Jeckyll and Hyde. In the end, you may not want to adopt lil’ Annie, but with her lips so red, skin so fair, voice so bold and guitar so fiery, another show at the end of the tour would be nice. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com