Better Than: A religious experience that doesn’t involve distortion pedals.
The weather and landscape couldn’t have been more ideal in Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn Saturday, as concertgoers passed time picnicking and playing games on the park grounds for hours in anticipation of St. Vincent’s return to her home city.
San Fermin put the audience in a trance before St. Vincent took the stage. The soothing tone of lead singer’s Allen Tate’s voice is a mild aphrodisiac, but we wish he was more lively on stage. Luckily, the infusion of sax, trumpet, and trombone kept us on our toes.
After the sky began to darken and San Fermin exited the stage, St. Vincent (AKA: Annie Clark) emerged wearing an other-worldly, leggy frock and her signature brightly colored eye makeup, shuffling in front of an enthusiastic crowd ready for the oddball persona and guitar-goddess chops that have earned praise from fans and critics alike.
See also: St. Vincent Confuses the Masses on SNL
A pre-recorded robotic voice asked fans to refrain from capturing the performance on their digital devices so they could be experience it more fully without distraction. The crowd cheered and then, as soon as Clark appeared, raised their smart phones into the air to snap photos and take video.
Clark examines the urge to capture and share our experiences on her single “Digital Witness,” which she launched into after a strong “Rattlesnake” opener.
After opening with two of the more appealing tracks from her latest self-titled record, she dipped into her catalog, keeping the concert upbeat with “Cruel” from 2011’s “Strange Mercy.”
Backed by a three-piece band that occasionally joined Clark in her kitschy choreographed dances, Clark gave a tightly controlled performance that became unleashed during her impressive guitar solos. During the show, Clark climbed a three-tiered pyramid behind her, singing songs from the top of the structure, lying down to sing on her back during “I Prefer Your Love.” She eventually launched into the crowd as she worked herself through a “Your Lips Are Red” guitar solo during the encore.
Minimalism is Clark’s M.O.: She’s crafted a stage presence that thrives on less-is-more choreography and pinpoint micromovements that, at times, can only be enjoyed by the front row. She baby-steps to and from the mic stand in a robotic shuffle.
The show marked the end of an already long leg of the Digital Witness tour that began in February and will continue through December. For anyone who’s already caught her, much of the stage banter will be familiar.
Clark strategically crafts an “experience” for her fans. Speaking on why nothing is left to chance, Clark told us back in February, “People have spent money on a ticket, and maybe that money is the equivalent of them spending a day of their life at their job, or half a day. Money is absolutely time.”
Saturday night marked a homecoming for Clark and the end of Celebrate Brooklyn’s summer show schedule. Until next year, Prospect Park Bandshell; we’ll miss you!
Critical Bias: The extended, extended heavy guitar solo on “Your Lips Are Red” almost made me not complain St. Vincent didn’t perform “Krokodil.” Almost.
Random Notebook Dump: Thank goodness the citation for carrying an open container of alcohol in a public space in New York City is only $25.
Every Tear Disappears
I Prefer Your Love
Actor Out of Work
Birth in Reverse
Bring Me Your Loves
Year of the Tiger
Your Lips Are Red
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 11, 2014