The Pageant • nov. 20
By Cory Weaver
Gloria Swanson said it best in the movie "Sunset Boulevard":
“I’m big! It’s the pictures that got small.”
Well, Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, is big. And for the pictures, times have changed and they’re big too. Ms. Clark single-handedly took over the Pageant on November 20th. Performing the first half of her set in a hot-pink, patent-leather, strapless body suit and matching thigh-high boots, she was captivating. She thrilled her onlookers with a theatrical 10-track set, backed by a staggering light show and a series of geometric ceiling-to-floor curtains.
The show opened with 2007’s warm-hearted pop ballad “Marry Me,” one of a handful of old tunes she performed that spanned her previous four albums. This set the pace for a night of lyrical torrents that blurred the lines of experience, desire and artifice in a way that only a person from the middle of the country (Oklahoma) who moves to New York City can do.
Closing out part one of the set was “Digital Witness,” “Rattlesnake” and the poppy, pulsing riff-heavy “Birth In Reverse,” a perfect segue to her second set, which followed a five-minute break.
Set two, dubbed “Masseduction,” is not only a cut from her new album, but it’s literal. Very few can command a stage for 110 minutes, but a lot of musicians aren’t performers and a lot of performers don’t have one of the best albums of the year to fill an entire set. Ms. Clark does—in a Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane Bowie-esque fantastical effectuation.
Performing her fifth album—some say it’s her best, but perhaps it’s her most complete—from start to finish, Ms. Clark channeled many of those who came before her in a passing-the-torch tribute: Madonna, Liz Phair, Poe, Tori Amos and even Lady Gaga.
She was unrelenting throughout, with a graceful multimedia show and a costume change that dazzled the senses in “A Clockwork Orange”-TV-torture scene type of way—the kind where you can’t avert your eyes.
She’s fearless and she’s from flyover country. She spans the coasts from NYC to LA on “Masseduction” but she left her heart in NYC on “New York” (“New York isn't New York without you, love; so far in a few blocks, to be so low”), which has been described as a tribute to David Bowie.
A stage-wide video screen was Ms. Clark’s only accompaniment. Throughout her set she blended sights to match her audio seduction. This night, this tour perhaps is about her. She once described touring as a bloodsport, and maybe it is. And if it is, she’s coming out on top. Masseduction, Masseducation, Massmedia, St. Vincent or Annie Clark, “How could anyone have you and lose you?”
All Photos © Cory Weaver/CMW Photography • Bands Through Town