Smile Politely

St. Vincent, save us all!

I love reading Smile Politely comments! I just finished a blurb of them associated with the preview for this show written by the talented Annie Weisner. The subtle drama that plays out is like a forum for the outlandish and unsatisfied. I often laugh, whole heartedly. I would like to thank the collective contributors for their candor and guile wit.

Before I begin the review, I want to deliberately put my own tasty bit out there to see if I get any good comments. If not, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The issue I’d like to probe and put out there for discussion is this: TALKING AT SHOWS. I feel it is worthy of inclusion here because it should never ruin great shows. Fortunately, it didn’t ruin this one. I mean don’t get me wrong, everyone talks at shows, and yes, there are appropriate times for mid-show banter, i.e. between bands and succinct intra-song dialogue. To carry on a loud, overt conversation mid-performance though, especially when you and others paid $15 to get in, baffles the mind. Please call me out if you see me doing this at a show, ruining it for the rest of us. In the meantime though, for everyone’s sake, please take that shit outside. xoxoxoxo

As for the show itself, let me just say this. One could draw many comparisons and Pandora links to Annie Clark, but when you come back to the drawing board, she is singular. I hear Feist, I hear David Bowie, I hear Prince. Mostly though, I hear her amazing guitar skills and steadfast tonal tenacity. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a St. Vincent show. Her records are fairly mellow affairs, and one of my friends thought he would be lulled to sleep if he were in attendance. What I came away with though, was a sense of satisfaction. Good shows dooooo happen here, honestly!

I only caught the last two songs of Elsinore’s opening set. I hope the boys can forgive. This wasn’t the first time they have opened for St. Vincent, however. They had the honor back in October as well, Ryan Groff told me after.

St.Vincent took the stage amidst a deliberate barrage of fog machine mist and stimulating stretched canvas lighting magic. The ambiance created was something Annie called for, regardless of the price she would pay for inhaling that gagging fog. Sacrificial artistry at its finest. Her band consisted of four boys in blue button down shirts collectively filling in the rhythm, woodwind, and brass. Annie stood tall in her black dress, sleek against the white backdrop. Her puffy curly black hair rested easily on her porcelain figure. Don’t let that fool you though. I cannot (in appropriate words) describe what her guitar playing, subtle use of looping, mastery of feed back, and effortless neck bending does to me on the inside. It is like guitar player porn. Let me say this again: she fucking knows how to play the guitar.

The selections she played from her two full lengths were wedged by two covers she did solo. A mesmerizing version of Jackson Browne’s “These Days”, and an encore version of “I Dig a Pony”, which happens to be my favorite Beatles song. Her show and performance was seamless and filled with crowd pleasing banter. She advised everyone to stay in college forever, and confirmed the long held rumor that her album, Marry Me, does pay homage to Maeby’s infamous line on Arrested Development. The Highdive was packed, and aside from the mild annoyance of listening to people catch up, right next to me. The vibe was what it should be and everyone streamed out of the venue satiated. Kudos collective community booking team, keep up the good work!

All photos by Justine Bursoni

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