Perhaps a stranger to the breathlessness of an 81-degree, 87-percent-humidity spring night in Miami, Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, took the stage at The Stage Thursday night in a glittery, long-sleeve shirt, leather shorts, and sheer, black stockings and proceeded to jack up the temperature in the packed venue with a performance at turns funky, sensual, and chaotic that left the crowd of several hundred stinking of sweat and smoke and deafened by the sound of their own screaming. Playing with a band, it was Clark’s first ever Miami performance and one of the last U.S. dates on a tour behind her third studio album, Strange Mercy.
All photos by Alex Broadwell
Clark kicked the set off with “Marrow”, a track off of the 2009 LP Actor, and crooned her way through 16 songs in total, regularly tearing through the layers of her lush soundscapes with a distorted guitar that at times (during “Black Rainbow”, for instance) conjured the crunch of a Black Sabbath riff, a sound at utter odds with her porcelain doll’s visage.
Except for a few lulls, Clark kept things danceable with songs like Strange Mercy‘s first single, “Cruel”, an upbeat thumper with a bass drum heartbeat (a leitmotif in her catalog) and an irresistible guitar riff that she placed perfectly at the dead center of her set. The next song, “Surgeon”, kept up the groove with Clark singing a line borrowed, she explained, from Marilyn Monroe’s diary (“Best find a surgeon”) over a feverish dance riff and then morphed into a Quincy Jones-worthy funk jam that you could imagine a coked-up Michael Jackson dancing to. (On that note, Clark’s signature “dance” is a jerky, collapsing motion that makes her seem like a marionette whose master keeps letting her fall and then sadistically yanking her back to attention.)
Easygoing with the crowd between songs, Clark couldn’t resist alluding to this past weekend’s “zombie attack” alongside I-395. “I’m not going to mention what you think I’m going to mention,” she said, as her segue to mention the horrific story. “I’m not thinking about how many of you are bath salt zombies.”
If Clark did fear her audience’s thirst for blood, she conquered that fear during the set’s raucous closer, “Krokodil”, the A-side of her Record Store Day 2012 7″. As soon as the band broke into the song’s relentless riff, she leapt atop the crowd, screaming into the microphone as the collective anemone of outstretched fingers passed her frail frame across the room.
Deposited back on stage, Clark thanked her audience and exited, her three band members in tow. But the crowd wouldn’t let her go. Chanting “Annie!” with an intensity unusual at a Miami rock show, they managed to lure the band back for an encore of “You’re Lips Are Red”, the only song (correct me if I’m wrong) that Clark performed off her debut LP, Marry Me. About 90 pulsating minutes after she’d taken the stage, Clark led the crowd in a mantric recitation of the song’s last line, “Your skin’s so fair it’s not fair”, that eventually took on the quality of a lullaby. The room now silent, Clark whispered, “Goodnight, Miami” and left.
Here are some more photos from the show.
Miami synth rock trio ANR — Brian Robertson, Michael-John Hancock, and new member Luke Moellman — opened the show, and DJ Run Sevim Run (below) manned the decks in between acts.
To view many more photos from the show by photographer Alex Broadwell, visit the Beached Miami Facebook page.
St. Vincent Setlist
3. “Chloe in the Afternoon”
4. “Save Me From What I Want”
5. “Actor Out Of Work”
7. “Black Rainbow”
10. “Champagne Year”
11. “Neutered Fruit”
12. “Year of the Tiger”
13. “Northern Lights”
14. “She Is Beyond Good And Evil” (The Pop Group cover)
16. “You’re Lips Are Red”