Concerts – St. Vincent at Venue (Vancouver)

Hey all… I apologize for the lack of posts this month, but things have been crazy busy. I promise I’ll update the site more often in the coming months, so keep checkin’ back!

Anyway, I caught the St. Vincent show at Venue on February 4th and thought I’d share a few details with you:

The music: Annie Clark and her band did a bang-up job of taking a very ambitious and complex album (her latest disc, Actor) and translating into a live setting. Her style of guitar playing is so unique and I’m amazed by the syncopated lines she can pull off while singing. This tiny woman can really rip it up! She was also backed by a solid band which included multi-instrumentalists who could ably switch between keyboards, saxophone, flute and clarinet. I’m not sure how long they’ve toured together, but there was a definite ease and looseness about their playing as a group.

The crowd: If you’ve ever been to a concert in Vancouver, you’ll know the local audiences can maddeningly chatty during sets. If I had a dollar for every time a poignant moment was ruined by a woman screeching, “He did what? Ohmigod! Oh. My. God!”… I’d be a rich woman. So it was really refreshing to see the audience at the St. Vincent show. People listened intently to every note; at points, it was quiet enough to hear the gentle clinking of the glasses behind the bar. But once a song ended, the crowd was amusingly vocal. Everyone seemed to have a real affection for Annie Clark. They’d call out questions like, “What colour is your dress?”, make oddball commentary (“Psychedelic!”) or call out requests (someone was dying to hear her cover TLC’s, “Waterfalls.”) It was the perfect combination of people being respectful during the performance… and expressive when it counted.

The on-stage banter: Annie is a totally charming front woman and a darn good raconteur, to boot. She told a funny story about walking around downtown Vancouver earlier that day, looking for somewhere to eat lunch. A local guy stopped to chat with Annie and he was so unbelievably friendly… she was convinced he must be a serial killer. But then, she reminded herself she was in Canada and we’re just like that up here. Another funny moment came when Annie prefaced the song, “Bed” by recounting how she learned to shoot a gun as a youngster in Texas and was surprised to learn later on that it’s not a universal childhood experience. Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve heard a singer engage with the crowd on this level, so it was a cool experience.

I wrote about the album, Actor in my Best of ’09 list, so have a read if you want more specifics on what St. Vincent sounds like. Or check out the clip from Austin City Limits below.


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