The first time I saw Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, she was the opening act for my college town’s hometown favorite, indie-string-pop icon Andrew Bird.
I was familiar with her early music, thanks to a group of high school friends who had better music taste than me and who were eager to share their taste through mix CD exchanges, but I wasn’t expecting the hard, raw edge that Clark brought to her music. It wasn’t hard in a bad way — it was hard in an unexpectedly fantastic way. Clark attacked her well-known guitar riffs with an energy that didn’t always come through in her recordings, as exquisitely crafted as they tended to be. Watching Clark and Bird play off of each other’s energy in an encore at the end of the night remains one of the most memorable musical moments in my young life.
When Clark joined us in studio for what turned out to be a truly fantastic conversation about music, life and where the two meet up — take a listen if you haven’t already — I was pleasantly surprised to hear her say that “the place for music to live is live.” As anybody who has ever seen St. Vincent live can tell you, she’s one-hundred percent correct.
Her Thursday concert at Boston’s House of Blues was a real testament to her own understanding of her musical and performance strengths. Clark, fully invested in her St. Vincent persona on stage, seems to float around at times while performing, her shock of white hair perched just so on her head as she unleashes wave after wave of sound.
It might seem cliché to say it, but there’s a really pleasant side to discovering that a music artist you love is a great performer, and that their music takes on a new life while on stage. Clark is just such a performer. Her music, especially the music on her stunning fourth album, “St. Vincent,” is full of complicated digital tricks and hard-charging guitar work. The crowd in the House of Blues burst into a hearty roar every time Clark let loose on the guitar, and it was hard not to join in.
“Your friends don’t know everything about you.” — St. Vincent
Despite all her running around and climbing during the performance, Clark managed to keep her voice centered and soaring. It was akin to listening to her new album, with the volume turned up and the instrumentation made fresh by an infusion of new energy.
I could go on and on and on about how important it is to see St. Vincent live and in person, but I won’t. What I will do is say that, should you get the chance, you should take up Clark on her own advice and see her music live out live and on stage. It’s an experience that can only reaffirm your belief in music as a shared experience.
– Nick Andersen