Tag Archives: 9:30 Club

St. Vincent at 9:30 Club

St. Vincent

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.


Desaparecidos at 9:30 Club

Desaparecidos plays to a sold out 9:30 Club on their short East Coast tour. Photo by Nico Dodd.
Desaparecidos plays to a sold out 9:30 Club on their short East Coast tour. Photo by Nico Dodd.

At this point in his career, Conor Oberst has any number of entities he can tour with, from indie alternative Bright Eyes, the southern rock Mystic Valley Band, to his solo performances (not to mention Monsters of Folk). Desaparecidos is his post-hardcore punk outfit. Each of these incarnations attracts the same enthusiastic fan base which makes the performances as memorable as Oberst himself does. The band’s sold out show at 9:30 Club was an opportunity to hear the ambitious songwriter on overdrive.

Per artist request, there was no professional photography admitted. I left my DSLR in the car. At a previous concert, Oberst spoke out against smartphones at shows. He wants his audience undistracted and in the moment with him.

With Desaparecidos, Oberst pushes his political leanings to to forefront. A recording of Ted Nugent comically rambling about politics played before the band took the stage to the theme of the A-Team. Over a heavier sound, Oberst’s vocals let loose with more energy than an average Bright Eyes show. He made a short speech in support of Bradley Manning and hacktivists, inviting the latter to take away the “golden parachutes” of bankers at Goldman Sachs. The band’s themes are mostly socio-economical. I am curious what influence his Jesuit education at Creighton Prep had on his views.

For their encore, the band covered the Clash classic “Spanish Bombs”, a song whose revolutionary lyrics ring true with the rest of the band’s catalogue. Oberst dove into the audience to end the show.

The opening acts, States & Kingdoms and Joyce Manor, were on opposite ends of the punk age spectrum and put on top notch performances.

States & Kingdoms is a supergroup comprised of members of Rival Schools, Thursday, Retisonic, Small Brown Bike and Atlantic/Pacific. Grounded by stellar drumming, the band jammed through a dynamic set that drew from shoegaze and prog rock. Slide guitar and keyboard allowed them this stylistic breadth. Despite lacking vocals, southern-tinged guitar solos left the audience wanting more. I could have listened to them for another hour.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Joyce Manor immediately initiated a mosh pit and nonstop crowd surfing. Joyce Manor’s sound is part of a harder pop punk sound adopted by bands like the Menzingers. The band’s So-Cal playfulness was at odds with the aged maturity of both Desa and S&K, but it made the night that much more relaxed and loose. Lead singer Barry Johnson’s stage presence showed a lot of heart. I am excited to see what the future holds for them.