Review: St. Vincent Live in Columbus

Annie Clark... right before she fell on me.

Now, if you’ve been a good reader of the WOBC music blog, you know I love St. Vincent. Like “actually-kinda-border-line-obsessed-this-is-an-embarrassing-thing-to-talk-about-type-deal” love. In other words, my love is true and unwavering. And after seeing St. Vincent live at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, that love has only strengthened.

Ok, let me put my St. Vincent boner away for a minute. I’m going to be straight with you.  I am not easily impressed by live music. Or let me rephrase that– I am not easily impressed by the “lo- fi blah blah drone-core blah blah chill-wave” sound that typifies the live music scene today. It’s a thing for bands that act like that don’t give a shit, but in doing that, they make me, the listener, really not give a shit. Thus forth, no shits are given and not much fun is had– just the look of slouchy, stewing over post-adolescent ennui not unlike as seen in an American Apparel ad staring back at me from across the stage. I like musicians who care. I want upwards of five shits to be given about the music I listen to. St. Vincent cares. St. Vincent gives shits.

Walking into the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew what I was about to see was going to be FREAKING AWESOME, but the long road trip had addled my brain and for some reason, I just really wanted a milkshake. So while I went outside and did my meditation exercises to try to calm down, which involve me imagining that my whole body is slowly melting into butter or that I am on a nice beach somewhere (note: this didn’t actually happen), I tried to remind myself of what I was about to witness– a true goddess by the name of Annie Clark. I shuffled back inside and the show shortly began.

First off, let me say: WHOA. WHOA.  SV, you got chops. Starting off with the unmistakable synth intro of “Marrow,” a track from the 2009 album Actor, the show commenced in a fit of bursts and stomps in the form of the song’s scattershot chorus of “H-E-L-P! Help me! Help me!” From there, St. Vincent moved onto the head-banging standout “Cheerleader.” It was only roughly six minutes into the show and already Ms. Clark had the audience in the palm of her stand. Standing up on stage, her curly halo backlight by a cool glow of white light, St. Vincent was the gospel, and the audience, piously staring back up at her, enraptured.

You name it, St. Vincent played it. “Surgeon”? Check. “Your Lips Are Red”? Check. A cover of The Pop Group’s “She’s Beyond Good and Evil”? Check. With the entire show clocking in at a little over an hour and thirty minutes, each song containing more crazy guitar licks than the next, it’s a wonder Annie didn’t keel over at the end from the sheer heaviness of her set. She was amazing to watch perform. The juxtaposition of her movements, playing her guitar like she was trying to wrangle a live wire, with her voice, wholly angelic and self-assured, played out like theater on the stage. Throughout the set, I was continually struck by the power of her songwriting. The song “Black Rainbow” cemented Clark’s triple-threat status of music, voice and lyrics with its words calling to mind darkly poetic, narrative imagery, the tone of Clark’s chorus, rueful and lilting, and the sound of the crashing electric guitar crescendo at the song’s end, played live with the aid of a theremin. My favorite moment in the show was when St. Vincent played her newest song, “Krokodil,” and promptly, ever so casually, hopped off the stage to crowdsurf. Within a matter of seconds, she lay writhing atop a wave of hundreds of grabbing hands, thrusting up and down with the crowd’s unmitigated force. She wasn’t very heavy yet somehow we all managed to do a very bad job of holding her up. Subsequently, she fell on me. IT. WAS. AWESOME. (and in other news, I have pretty much just outed myself as a freak).

To put it succinctly, I had a really, really great time seeing St. Vincent live. Annie Clark very obviously gives many shits about the music she’s playing, and that definitely shows in her performance. If you ever have the chance to see St. Vincent live, do yourself a favor and order those tickets– you won’t regret it, even if you’re not a die-hard fan like me.  Walking out of the venue, I entered a state of post-euphoric bliss. Everything felt right with the world. I didn’t have to imagine myself turning into a pot of butter to be at peace with things. But still, something was missing. I spent a few moments feeling confused and then suddenly it dawned on me. The Milkshake. I floated across the street to the weird convenience store-cum-old fashioned soda fountain near where I parked my car and ordered my myself a mint chocolate chip malt. I don’t know if it was the chords to “Cruel” still ringing in my ears, but man, it was really, really damn good.

-Julia Pressman