- Read DFW.com’s review here.
On Thursday night, the indie music community found its loyalties divided. Santigold at House of Blues or St. Vincent at the Granada. Ultimately, I opted for Dallas native Annie Clark, a.k.a St. Vincent.
Though I was slightly sad to be missing Santigold post-name change, I was thrilled to be seeing St. Vincent after the recent release of her second album, Actor. One can always count on the Granada for a good show, and hey, some of us find the sound of beer bottles clinking together in industrial garbage bins charming.
When Annie and her cohorts took the stage, I was a initially a tad disappointed. I first saw her perform at the same theater in February of 2007. She opened for Denton’s Midlake that evening, and her debut album had yet to be released. Her one-woman show was absolutely captivating, and I’ve been a St. Vincent devotee ever since. So to see her up there in between four other men was initially disconcerting. But as soon as the group launched into jazzy renditions of the classics, I was no longer yearning for the days of her solo act. Well, sort of.
The show opened with “Marry Me,” a hit from her first album by the same name, and it was clear that there were not many fans in the crowd from her pre-Actor days. But the energy of the audience picked up as she and her four men vacillated between old and new tracks. Clark looked genuinely happy to be playing on the Granada stage, and her cheery between-song commentary was sprinkled with self-deprecating jokes and shout outs to her hometown. (She grew up in Dallas, where she attended Lake Highlands High School and later performed in the local musical orgy that is the Polyphonic Spree.)
On some of the newer tunes, her vocals were drowned out by heavy bass and wild drums. But the spotlight was perpetually fixed on her dainty figure, and she owned the show no matter how many instruments surrounded her. Funky beats from the drummer breathed life into Actor‘s drearier songs and updated softer tracks from her debut album.
What I love about St. Vincent is that her repertoire somehow manages to be both whimsical and ominous, buoyant and pained. Even the happiest songs usually end in some sort of chaotic, stressful climax. But it’s her ephemeral voice that manages to tie these disparate moods together. And it was a pleasant present to see her on stage alone at one point as she deftly performed “Paris Is Burning.”
In the end, I wish I’d heard a little more from Marry Me, but I am finally sold on her latest work from Actor. It was evident last night that she has officially made the transition from meek singer-songwriter to bold rock star. She proved she can be both restrained and outrageous with her music as she headbanged her way through the end of “Now, Now” and then again with the band’s finale.
All in all, it was a fantastic show. If you aren’t already acquainted with Annie Clark’s work, stop what you’re doing right now and go listen to every song she’s ever written.