I had a terrific birthday yesterday, thanks to everyone who wished me well (mostly via Facebook). Unfortunately, none of you cheap bastards bought me a single bottle of Rolling Rock at last night’s St. Vincent show at Slowdown, Jr. And what a well-attended show it was. I don’t know if it was a sell-out, but it looked darn close. Opener Pattern Is Movement came on at around 9:45 (Hey, Slowdown, whatever happened to starting at the stroke of 9?). A keyboard and drum duo, they sounded nothing like their music on Myspace. Instead, the frontman’s warbly vocals sounded like a cross between an insecure David Byrne and Adam Sandler’s Operaman, stammered over indie prog waterfall keyboards. And it was a short set (which reminds me of the Woody Allen quip, when reviewing a restaurant: “The food was terrible, and such small portions”).
St. Vincent (Annie Clark and her band) didn’t go on until around 11. After I first heard her perform at The Waiting Room a couple years ago, I declared her “this generation’s PJ Harvey.” Last night — and on her new album, Actor — it would be more accurate to call her this generation’s Kate Bush. Backed by four band members — a violin, bass, drums and a guy on woodwinds (flute, saxophone, clarinet) — the music was dreamy and theatric, as well as rocking and, dare I say it, funky (see action photo, actually for a better view of Annie, see Dave Leibowitz’s action photo). Their secret weapon is that woodwind player — who added depth and emotion to every song — and Clark’s own gritty guitar work — stark, hard, efficient, chopping, groovy. And, of course, her sweet voice that at times got lost in the mix. As is the case with any great band, the music sounded more dynamic on stage than on my speakers. Clark and Co. took it to the next level and peaked with the last song of the night — an amazing version of “Your Lips Are Red,” (from Marry Me) — that put this show on top of my “best of” list (so far this year).
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