St. Vincent beguiles fans at Cain's Ballroom show
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Thursday, May 17, 2012
5/17/12 at 4:30 AM
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Musician Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, swept into her Tuesday night tour stop at Cain's Ballroom with an aplomb and delicacy, perfectly balancing her power-driven rock with casual banter.
She blended stories of her youth in Tulsa with "hate mail" to her current home of New York City, and she worked in songs from her three studio albums, "Marry Me," "Actor" and "Strange Mercy."
There was nothing that even remotely resembled predictability in Clark's 90-plus-minute set. Her guitar barked and hissed and moaned in time with her sweet-sultry vocals and mad-happy lyrics.
"Marrow" featured electronic-tinged runs that blasted a cheering crowd as Clark writhed over her guitar.
"Hey Tulsa!" she said afterward, waving both of her hands in the air, childlike. "It's been a long time. Any Barnard Elementary alums out there?"
She plunged into "Cheerleader," mouth wide open, passionately screaming, her sweet voice still intact over the grungy, reverb-laden, near-metal riffs and backing band. Clark spattered the stage with bloody guitar solos. Effects pedals littered the stage in her wake.
She beguiled fans with wanton musical lust.
This month, Spin magazine named her one of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time (of all time!), and compared her to legend Jimi Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix!). In concert, one can easily understand the comparison, along with comparisons to David Bowie and Kate Bush.
But do not be misled - dainty Clark is propelled by a dichotomy of monstrosity and purity. She's Jekyll and Hyde all at once, and Tuesday night's audience couldn't get enough of her.
The Tulsa-born musician's set included "Save Me From What I Want," before the well-heeled Clark segued into "Actor Out of Work" with a sing-shouted obscenity squeezed into the lyrics. The fans went mad, chanting, "Annie!"
Her "love-hate" letter to NYC, "Dilettante," she explained, "really just says, you know, please take your boot off my neck." She hammered the neck of her guitar with her hand, and she pulled its strings like the hair of a high-school rival. Her body convulsed with each beat.
She performed many tunes from her latest album, and the crowd was familiar with each song, including "Surgeon," "Chloe in the Afternoon," and "Neutered Fruit."
Clark admitted that the guitar riff for "Year of the Tiger" was swiped from ... her mother.
"The riff is from a melody my mother used to sing to us as kids, right over there on 18th and Lewis," she said. "I asked my mom if I could use it, and she was like, 'Go ahead, distort it with your guitar and make it ugly.' " She smiled. "Thank you, Mom!"
She followed with "Northern Lights," which took on a swelling energy of riotous frenzy. Fans pogo-jumped and screamed, pushing toward the front of the stage. The energy amplified further with punk-noise rocker "She is Beyond Good and Evil," a cover of The Pop Group.
Energy quickly climaxed with her heavy, noisy new tune "Krokodil." Clark leaped into the crowd, mic in hand, and sang every word as she was passed overhead in a massive, oh-so-punk crowd-surf moment. She made it back to the stage, stood, smiled, waved and dived in again.
Opening act Shearwater lead a five-piece aural assault that was as psychedelic as it was unadulterated gut-punch rock.
The band's sound is a study in the design of sound - melodies weave through every register, embellished with instrumentation that ranged from amp-hugging distortion to pristine harmonies.
At no time does any one instrument or sound overpower the others. They work together, even with punctuated silences, to create atmospheric and at times epic sonic compositions.
Original Print Headline: St. Vincent beguiles fans at Cain's
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346
St. Vincent performs at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa on Tuesday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World