I watched St. Vincent, other wise known as the saintly Annie Clark, slink up onto Diesel’s stage this past Sunday night in a dress that would be suited for a goth Jan Jetson. She weaved her way through the maze of guitars, microphones, her 7 or so pedals, a key board, a flute, a clairnet and a violin.
It’s easy to forget when you listen to 2009’s Actor or 2007’s Marry Me how each song, even the ballads, have countless moving parts. Watching Clark negotiate this overflowing stage, I suddenly felt as if this was the physical manifestation her little musical dream world, a place she fits into like a perfectly crafted diamond cog.
Petite, angelically light skinned with jet black curls and blood red lips, Clark also makes it abundantly clear in the closing moments of “The Strangers,” which opened the set, that she is a guitar goddess.
Balancing an off-kilter virtuosity with an insatiable appetite for feedback, Clark devoured abyss black distortion every chance she could get. But even amidst the most hectic breakdowns, she would allow the storm to evaporate. Clark revels in the abrupt transitions, licking her lips with a knowing smirk and awkward giggle, only to hum a gorgeously banal harmony in the guitar frenzy’s aftermath.
She spun through all the highlights of Actor with razor precision: “Actor Out of Work” sounded even more confrontational live, “Marrow’s” chorus vibrated with a chunky bravado, and “Black Rainbow” reached it’s climax like melodramatic score of a silent movie, just like it was supposed to. Marry Me’s “Jesus Saves, I Spend” made an appearance early in the set, as did a solo rendtion of “Paris is Burning” that was made even more devestating with Clark’s solitude on stage.
One cover (if you can call it that) also made its way into the set: an alternate version of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.” Clark described her take on Ice Cube’s classic as “a condensed version, aged about 30 years and sung by a morbidly depressed woman.” (note: the song was actually “These Days” by Jackson Browne, Clark simply said it reminded her of Ice Cube’s track)
The cherry on top of the sundae, or the lit fuse on top of the bomb, was the apocalyptic, searing, extremely anticipated extended version of “Your Lips Are Red” in the encore. The four minute, distortion drenched coda had more than its share of Zeppelin-like grandeur, even prompting Clark to kneel down over her pedals, pump and smack her guitar causing endless ripples of static and basically revel in the maximum control of her 40 foot swell of electricity.
Frankly, that’s how everything in life should end.