I saw St. Vincent in concert a while back. I was not familiar with her music beforehand, and Annie Clark quickly rose to my top favorite musicians, her band included, in one night.
In the weeks leading up to the concert, I did the necessary research. Purchasing two of St. Vincent’s albums, Strange Mercy and St. Vincent, I had the proper tools to study. Thus, I embarked on my journey to happiness, falling in love with the music and the incredible uniqueness of her sound.
I love music. I love the way it makes me feel. I associate songs with scenes from movies, and their implied emotions reflect upon me. I play it; I dance to it; it’s ingrained. That being said, I don’t spend my days researching or discovering new music. I like when music is dropped, quite literally, in my lap. When people share their favorite songs, when it comes on in a random cafe, when it comes to me. It’s a little bit lazy. I admit that. But the world is filled with music and I gladly welcome every note. Music is a form of connection. I want to connect. And I truly connected that night when I attended St. Vincent’s performance at the House of Blues in San Diego.
The show itself was one of the most aesthetically pleasing things I have ever witnessed. She created a powerful visual effect that was clearly choreographed, but executed in a way that appeared seemingly effortless. The slightest of movements, like shifting both her guitar and body to the left, echoed throughout her band and had an overall effect of awesomeness. The clean stiffness held power over each of them and, in turn, over the audience. I was mesmerized. Not only is she beautiful — there was something about how the light hit her face — she was perfect. Mannequin perfect. She danced as though that were true. Whoever choreographed this show knew what they were doing — there was a specific style. Aside from a pyramid stage made of white blocks, which she utilized often, the stage was plain; band members scattered around her. The band members wore white—crazy colors expertly prohibited while St. Vincent wore various outfits with large shoulder pads, highlighting herself in black. Each outfit a brilliant homage to the 80s and simultaneously a foresight into fashion’s future. Her legs stretched for miles as she shuffled her feet quickly up and down the stage. At times her other female guitarist, equally talented, would join her in this dance move. Accompanied by the strobe lights, it was like they were floating around the stage. These robotic, small movements were conducted with straight faces and wild hands.
Not that I attend concerts on a regular basis, but two female guitarists playing with such expertise struck a chord with me (pun DEFINITELY intended). I felt myself rocking for women altogether, and repeating, “Damn, that’s cool!” At one point, she stood atop the stage’s pyramid and sang a song to completion. The strobe lights flickered across the stage, and she began to slowly slither down each step, rolling her body, arching longingly with each bend of the steps. I said, “If she rolls down all of these, I will love her forever!” She did, therefore, I do.
I could go on. I could recount the entire show, but that would leave little to surprise others when they finally see her live (not that anyone could ever tire of a performance such as this). And I highly recommend that — her voice is better live, if you can believe it. It’s not just the sound, but also the way that she controls it. “Cruel” blew my mind. Download it. Right now. Seriously.
I have spoken to the show itself, and here is why it’s relevant.
1) It is unbelievably enjoyable.
2) Everything that she did to connect to her audience was facilitated by rhetoric.
There is something to say about stage performance, especially when it is done well. St. Vincent puts on a different kind of show. I could not take my eyes away; this I attribute to the visual aesthetics of the already extremely captivating performance, additionally accompanied by breathtaking vocals. In most concerts, we are lucky if we get one of those. And in this case, we get both. It is the lights, the colors, the choreography, the physical movements. The body language imitated the lyrics in a way that made each movement almost audible, quite literally an extension of the words, reaching out to her audience, as we reached back.
Thinking back, even the memory of her voice gives me chills throughout my entire body. I rarely experience such a strong reaction to a performance. And to see that reaction ripple through a venue full of people is quite a rhetorical feat. Well done, St. Vincent. Well done.
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