On Saturday night, Annie Clark—the singer/guitarist/goddess known as St. Vincent—took to the stage at Chicago's Riviera Theatre to play an absorbing, striking show for a sold-out crowd.
The musician pulled nearly half of the evening's set list from this year’s St. Vincent—dubbed “a party record you can play at a funeral"—with Mary Me's "Your Lips Are Red," Actor's "Marrow" and "Laughing with a Mouth Full of Blood," and the shiniest gems from 2011’s Strange Mercy peppered in throughout.
The crowd didn't make a sound during Clark’s solo rendition of that latter album’s title track, which she performed at the start of her encore from atop her stage’s light pink, art-deco-esque set of steps. With the audience gazing up at her as if listening to a queen perched on a pedestal, one couldn't help but think, "All hail St. Vincent." In honor of the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, the encore also saw Clark tackling Nirvana's "Lithium,” further solidifying her status as a total badass while testing The Riv’s structural soundness as a result of the room’s hundreds of jumping fans.
Beneath a mane of wild grey locks (which Stephen Colbert recently likened to Einstein’s head of hair), Clark laced her set with Stop Making Sense-like choreography, recalling her recent time on the road with Talking Heads frontman David Byrne in support of their 2012 album, Love This Giant. She strayed from playing any of that record's tracks, proving that while she clearly took away a collection of confidence from that collaboration (and perhaps the funky brass section on "Digital Witness"), 2014 is all about Annie and Annie only. "Prince Johnny," "Bring Me Your Loves," and the evening's kick-off, "Rattlesnake," all further proved that St. Vincent can contend for the title of "best album" in Clark's stellar catalog.
Her avant-guard dress and stark set of struck poses made her appear fresh from an uber-chic and possibly extraterrestrial runway show. Her banter with the audience about childlike wonder and weird, undiscussed everyday speculations ("Oh my god, are these really my hands?" she asked, knowing we all ponder the same thing) tethered her back to earth as she spoke of building forts as a child and contemplating the death of strangers as an adult. Clark released one of this year’s best albums thus far, and her supporting tour reveals an ever-evolving pop star of her own making offering up something wholly unique and truly undeniable. All hail St. Vincent, indeed.
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