July 26, 2007
The Record Bar
Photos and review by Richard Gintowt
Man, oh man -- St. Vincent is the shit. I suspected as much after giving her new album Marry Me a couple spins, but Annie Clark and company's show last night at the Record Bar was Ron Burgundy's balls and then some.
Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent
Have you heard this girl? The closest modern songwriter I can think of is Sufjan Stevens, whom she toured with as a guitarist (she's also one of those kooks who donned a white robe for the Polyphonic Spree). Her guitar style is one-of-a-kind, informed by bits of John Fahey, Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey. But that's just a footnote compared to Clark's composing talents, which match Sufjan's tit-for-tat and are every bit as adventurous and compelling.
There were probably about 50 people in the door last night, which is a damn shame considering the caliber of performer. But secretly I was happy about the thin attendance, which made me feel like I was smarter than the rest of y'all lunkheads who were at home watching SportsCenter. Maybe it's not your fault -- maybe you just haven't heard St. Vincent yet -- but damn if that wasn't the best show I've seen since the last great show I saw (Midlake in Los Angeles).
After an inspired set from opener Scout Niblett (also a distinct voice worth checking out), Clark took the stage with a trio of woodshedders that included violin, electric bass and drums. She alternated between guitar and piano and sang into two microphones, one of which looked like a tin cylinder and made her sound like she was crooning into a brittle mailbox. She also played a couple songs solo, proving that she's equally adept in that setting and every bit as captivating.
If you saw a dude with a dumbfounded look on his face who kept mouthing "holy shit" to the people standing behind him, that was me. I was totally swept up by Clark's charisma and the chops of her supporting trio, which could probably make producer Jon Brion drool all over himself.
Clark's perfomance style has a bit of that old Billie Holiday flair, but modernized a la Regina Spektor or Fiona Apple. It frequently and unabashedly kicks ass, gunning its post-rock engines like a rogue driver on the NASCAR circuit. It's loud, sensual and elegant, a delicious patchwork of inspired verses sewn together by beautiful melodies and boisterous detours. It's a bit like Andrew Bird in the way it shifts mood and cadence, but it's really just St. Vincent -- my new favorite singer-songwriter.