St. Vincent, with Wildbirds & Peacedrums Saturday, February 13, 2010 Bluebird Theater
Wildbirds & Peacedrums opened the show. A two-piece from Sweeden made up of Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin, the act has crafted a sound built upon creative use of various percussion instruments -- Werliin played a full drum kit, as well as a xylophone or marimba setup, while Wallentin hammered away on what sounded like steel pans -- accented with samples, for an overall calypso pop-like effect. For two people playing music that didn't rely on much beyond layered percussion and soulfully urgent vocals, Wildbirds & Peacedrums were melodic and catchy in completely unconventional ways.
The stage took on an otherworldly Technicolor hue as St. Vincent took the stage. Opening with "Actor Out of Work," the five member line-up performed a beguiling show from beginning to end. Annie Clark was charming. Engaging the audience with humor and praise, she didn't sound at all like she was pandering. At one point during the set, she made an awkward joke but somehow managed to turn it into a moment of endearing vulnerability.
Clark has frequently been lauded for her guitar playing, and when she laid into a noisy solo on "Jesus Saves, I Spend," which brought an edge to the song's carnival-esque atmosphere -- somewhere between an Adrian Belew squall and a Lee Randaldo freak-out -- it's not hard to see why. "Just the Same But Brand New" was nearly overwhelming in its ethereal beauty, enhanced by some particularly well-orchestrated lighting that highlighted the rhythms and textures of the song with both color and shifting intensity of light.
When Clark performed "These Days" solo, she jokingly warned the crowd not to applaud or her Catholic guilt would flare up. Afterward she introduced the members of the band as they returned to the stage for "Black Rainbow." The martial rhythms of "Marrow" and its part gritty, part dreamy melodies made for a striking highlight of the show, especially seeing Clark pull off the warped guitar solo in the middle. The set ended with the melancholic "The Party." But Clark returned to perform the flamenco-inflected "Paris is Burning" on her own before the rest of the band came back for a riveting version of "Your Lips Are Red."
St. Vincent - set list - Bluebird Theater 02.13.10
01. Actor Out of Work 02. The Strangers 03. Laughing With a Mouthful of Blood 04. Save Me From What I Want 05. Jesus Saves, I Spend 06. Just the Same But Brand New 07. The Bed 08. These Days 09. Black Rainbow 10. Marrow 11. The Party
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12. Paris is Burning 13. Your Lips Are Red
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I like pop music with an experimental edge. Random Detail: Ran into Bryon Parker of Accordion Crimes and Joe Hansen of Kissing Party at the show. By the Way: Annie Clark, the person, is even cooler than her music.
-- Tom Murphy