Nobody would raise a finger if you argued that Annie Clark is the patron saint of playfulness. Indie boys across the land have to pick up their collective jaws when the little sprite flits about on cutesy music videos. What she asserted this weekend on her trip through San Francisco that she can rip a guitar and melt hearts in quick succession.
Before Annie did her best to be adorable the L.A.-based band Foreign Born rocked their Strokes-meets-Arcade Fire anthems to great effect. The closing number “Union Hall” felt just as epic as it did as an opener to their 2007 debut On The Wing Now. Many of the songs during their set were brand new material that definitely would benefit from studio tweaking. It lacked some of the full sound that made their debut such a quiet revelation. “Into Your Dream”’s electric rambling was another stinger from their energetic set. The large handclaps and chanted “ohh ohh whoah’s” echoed effectively with that chiming guitar line. The icy climes of the resultant guitar riff sounded like Interpol’s work on their first album.
St Vincent’s performance at the lovely historic Great American Music Hall saw her with a full band after she opened up for the likes of Midlake and Sufjan Stevens in the past. The stage was set off with pastel tails poking up into the air and a striped black and white banner over the Hall’s middle balcony. To top it all off children’s handbells were used on a variety of songs; most notably on the Calypso-tinged “Human Racing.”
St. Vincent opened up many songs with tiny full band experimentations. “Now Now” featured some clarinet and violin waltzing before descending into that song’s lovely chamber call and responses. The guitar shred at the end was devastating. The sparse “Marry Me” started quite lovely with children’s hand bells and tinkling in turn and clarinet bleating on the beat. The night wasn’t all playful “gee-golly-gosh” territory though. “Land Mines” featured a brilliant punk rock bridge section that melted faces and for Annie’s solo cover of The Beatles’ “Dig That Pony” she commanded her electric with panache and rapid abandon. And during “Paris Is Burning”’s rousing chorus Annie’s icy cold line “We have taken to the streets in open rejoice revolting” the ethos is toothsome.
There were only a few minor snags along the way. The major one being some electric guitar trouble for Annie. She fumbled through a recounting of a recent concert experience for some comedy before plugging in another guitar. Let’s just say her comedy skills aren’t the best. The band even introduced a new song that featured syncopated yelping and crunchy guitars called “Mother Say.” Annie introduced the song by quipping, “it’s a necessity that I wear my guitar up high like a progger.” For a one-song encore she an intimate solo rendition of “What Me Worry?”
The night was full of playful songs and searing guitar work. The true hallmark of the night was Annie and her incredible voice – a gift duly appreciated by a fan with a bouquet of yellow roses. Lovely, indeed.
1) Now Now
2) Jesus Saves, I Spend
3) Marry Me
4) Human Racing
5) Land Mines
6) All My Stars Aligned
7) Dig that Pony (Beatles cover – solo)
8) Mother Say
9) Paris Is Burning
10) Your Lips Are Red
11) What Me Worry? (solo)
mp3:> St Vincent: Now, Now