St. Vincent

…at the Haw River Ballroom.

The last time I saw St Vincent, I had no idea who they were. They were just an opening band that I thought might be interesting but couldn’t really appreciate because of sound issues.

This time, she was the headliner, and the show was completely in her hands. There was a set; the lighting was extravagant; there was choreography; a costume change; songs were tight; effects were coordinated; there were no amplifiers on stage; some of the effects on her guitar seemed to be controlled off-stage (maybe timed?); the rest of the band (two keyboard players and a drummer) was dressed in black and pushed to the corners, leaving Annie Clark as the focal point.

And she made good use of the attention.

She stayed in her detached sexy art robot persona during the songs, and did a few wry, surreal, Byrne-style chats with the audience, in-between.

Some songs, she did from atop her little ziggurat.

Or while crawling on it. Or sliding down it.

She got a lot of use out of the floor, too.

The show was really spectacular, especially for such a small stage. The lights and the bits of choreography (not like Britney dance moves, more like disaffected synchronized music robots) and the electronics were in a completely different league from anything I’d ever seen in a small club. Very cool.

The music was, of course, mostly from her current record, with a lot from her previous one, and just a few from the rest. All good songs, though as always, a couple of my favorites got left out. The sound was loud, super-bass-heavy and really great – no amps on stage meant no real stage sound to compete with the PA. So everyone got the full sound-guy mix – none of the stage-sound blast that nearly wrecked it for me, last time. And no time spent fiddling with electronics, either. That’s something I wish more bands would try: all direct sound. IMO, the days of needing a big-ass amp on stage should be over soon – small amps and electronics can handle 99% of what a guitar player needs. Let the PA handle the volume.

And she’s a fantastic guitar player and singer, too.

Pretty wild stuff. See her/them if you have the chance. She’s one of a kind.