The message behind St. Vincent's weird, futuristic new persona

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
St. Vincent at The Ogden Theatre
When Annie Clark of St. Vincent took the stage with the rest of her band, it was with the same kind of choreographed ritual that informed the rest of the performance. Her hair these days seems to belong to a visitor from either outer space or the future, as are her clothes and the aforementioned choreography of movement. But they're simply another expression of Clark's creative growth. Like David Byrne, David Bowie and Laurie Anderson before her, Clark has given us with her new, self-titled album, a whole creative work rather than just a new side of her songwriting or a bigger and better light show and set to go with her more expansive budget.

Her manufactured creative identity is a work of art in itself that somehow also doesn't mask the real human emotions and experiences behind the songs. In that way, like her inspirations, Clark used this rock theater to both entertain and to communicate deeply personal thoughts that might otherwise be too confessional.

Tom Murphy
St. Vincent at The Ogden Theatre

Between songs, Clark told stories seemingly from her childhood, while inviting us to remember a time before we too became canny adults with pre-formed conceptualizations and lenses through which to interpret experiences. One such anecdote involved her asking us to remember when we used two garbage can lids for wings thinking we could fly.

Yes, Clark seemed good-naturedly amused in these moments, but it really also felt like she was trying to remind us of a time in our lives when we used our imaginations more, felt more without filters and had a sense of possibility.

Clark's stage persona wasn't that of a dark rock goddess trying to cast her spell over you with her ego to earn your worship. It wasn't a clumsy seduction of spirit even if only for an hour and a half. It wasn't a salve for one's existential malnourishment, as things seen merely as entertainment often are. Instead, she used that moment of influence to affect a change in the way you think about your life, encouraging you to re-connect with the less cynical side of your brain.

Yes, Clark may have looked like an intergalactic pop star slumming it on Earth. But that image, so very different from ones earlier in her career, going all the way back through her previous solo albums to her time with The Polyphonic Spree, wasn't just visually striking. It was also a reminder that everyone is a little weird on the inside, and that sometimes those odd aspects of ourselves are the most universally relatable.

But we rarely talk about these things, instead trying desperately to adhere to an even weirder set of social standards. St. Vincent, with this stage persona, challenges that divide.

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Adam Aedro Drotar
Adam Aedro Drotar

I saw her back in Philly awhile ago. She is gorgeous up close. I don't love her new album but I wish I had gone to this anyway.

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