Friday, July 27, 2007

St. Vincent at the Record Bar

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2007 at 10:59 AM

St. Vincent

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.

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Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent

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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).

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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.

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