St. Vincent played her second sold out night at 9:30 Club this Sunday. I went. It was great. Forgive the heavy consonance. Gonna jump right in here.
The performance had many theatrical elements. The set looked like an 80s living room. Lots of pastels. Very foggy. After every few songs, Clark stopped to give brief monologues that set up another set of songs with light foreshadowing. In this way, the performance was divided into acts. There were even choreographed dance moves with her guitarist (there was no bassist). And she had a costume change before her encore. It felt rehearsed and robotic—like science fiction.
Q: Are we not Devo?
A: We are St. Vincent!
Lady can shred. I underestimated the possible influence of My Bloody Valentine on her guitar work, and am mystified by her restraint on her recorded releases. Live, she let loose with intense solos and heavy pedal effects, very arena rock, almost in a Phish jam band way. (I may be alone in this comparison.) I see a lot of arena potential. As a songwriter, she has the rare-ish ability to be personal without melodrama, and has successively grown more sonically experimental on her releases with risky rhythms, structure and synths. I would love to hear her make a through and through guitar record, although that may not be her M.O. I am glad to see musicianship and experimentality together in the indie-music sphere, where flashy fashion often fades fast.
A highlight was her encore opening “Strange Mercy”, which she performed solo atop a pink pyramid.
Holly Herndon, the opener, was fun. According to her website, Herndon is a multi-disciplinary artist pursuing a doctorate in Computer Music at Stanford University. Her setup being mainly a laptop, it was initially laughable to watch her loop breathing noises with BOOMING bass, but as her set progressed, I enjoyed it more. I think her music would better suit a smaller space more oriented towards dancing. Her performance was good pallette prep for St. Vincent.