A New Pantheon: Venerating St. Vincent
A couple of weeks ago, I would’ve thought St. Vincent was some old guy forcing Christianity onto some uninterested people a thousand years ago. But, now that I’ve become acquainted with the sounds and stylings of St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, I believe it’s time to bring her work to the masses. Berklee Conservatory drop-out-turned-Grammy award winner, St. Vincent set her artistic vision into vibrantly contrasting vocals, with convoluted loops and layers of her incredible guitar skills.
I purchased my ticket to her House of Blues show just a day before and I was in a whirlwind of all that St. Vincent offered. I had only listened to the first of her five albums, Marry Me (2007), and a single song off her of her most recent work, Masseduction, which was released in October. This newest album is a rabbit hole that cascades into a fever dream of soaring highs and murky lows all the while she shreds on an electric guitar.
In bold fashion, St. Vincent’s only opener was a short film entitled, The Birthday Party, that she personally created. It featured a mother’s futile attempt to hide her husband’s dead body in a panda suit on her daughter’s birthday only to have it revealed as the cake is set on the table. The crowd was equally caught off-guard then excited for the whatever rollercoaster of madness we were about to be taken on in the tour aptly called, Fear the Future.
Opening the curtain just a crack on the left of the stage, Clark began the show with, “Now, Now”, the first song off Marry Me. She proceeded to perform a multitude of hits from her four previous albums, all the while moving around different areas of the stage and having the curtains opened to different degrees. The lights of this 45-minute highlights reel of albums past varied from a simple spotlight, to an intricate display of color and contrast, to utter strobe pandemonium. It was like peering into closed chapters of her life cracked slightly open and witnessing just a taste of what those albums had to offer.
Just as a climax was approaching, St. Vincent disappeared back behind the black curtains, taking with her the energy she effortlessly built in her loyal followers. Within a minute, both curtains re-opened to reveal a giant tapestry featuring a ghoulishly drawn version of her face as she began the second phase of the show without any accompanying dancers or performers.
Keeping with the order of the album, Clark crooned out the soft opening track, “Hang On Me”. This immediately transitioned to the drug-induced rush of the second song, “Pills”. All the while visuals were projected onto the back wall giving the effect of a slightly disturbing movie endlessly looping on. These strange, yet beautifully designed visual aesthetics made everyone believe that they were on some sort of psychedelic trip.
Other song highlights from the concert included the love song gone wrong, “Los Ageless”, which finished out with St. Vincent quietly admitting her inability to pen proper love lyrics, “I tried to write you a love song, but it comes out all sick”. Annie Clark reconnected to her past when she humorously attempted to swap the lyrics of her song “New York” to those about Boston.
Just when we thought St. Vincent couldn’t outdo herself she approached the album’s sonic climax, “Young Lover”, with wild intensity. The song featured a light show and visuals that made us feel like we were flying through space, as stars whipped by us as she ricocheted whistle tones towards the heavens. The concert ended with the incredibly dark closing track, “Smoking Section”, where she repeated, “this is not the end” so many times it felt like she was trying to convince herself and not us.
As she receded behind the curtain and the overhead lights turned on, I was left breathless. Never had I been so entranced by a single person before. Masseduction is a masterpiece that will most likely receive at least one Grammy nomination next season, and I highly encourage everyone to give it a listen.