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February 28, 2008

Review: St. Vincent at the Rock and Roll Hotel

MS reader Mary Hartney was at Tuesday night's St. Vincent show.

Here's her report: 

Watching a St. Vincent show is a bit like being in a high school music class, with a dainty, young teacher who encourages effervescent flute and violin playing and whistling -- except that every now and then, she raises a single eyebrow, pauses, and proceeds to completely destroy the guitar that just moments ago looked like it would consume her.

Annie Clark, the force behind St. Vincent, has the resume to prove her musicality: She was a member of Polyphonic Spree and has toured with Sufjan Stevens and gives off the vibe that she's spent a lot of time teaching and learning all kinds of music.

But for every "Now, class, pay attention" look she gives the audience (and pay attention we do), she has a quirky comment to balance it out.

Last night at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, the stage was decorated with small trees and a vase of flowers she carried out as the band took the stage, so "we can all feel like we're giants in a psychedelic forest."

I saw her almost a year ago at the same venue, when she opened for Midlake, and Maryann and I had spent the past few weeks obsessively listening to her songs on her MySpace page. We were two of about 10 people really focused on her playing at that show (and the first ones there because we are ultradorks). Now, her album's been out for some time, and we could barely cram onto the floor -- and spent most of the time craning our necks around a guy wearing a sweatband and another taking the exact same picture over and over (dude, get a better lens).

But she's still more than worth it. A year later, Clark's sound has changed, too -- she now has a full band, instead of her spare voice and an organ and guitar, and the highlight for me was a complete restructuring of "Paris Is Burning." If it can be made any more haunting, it was, with voice distortion and dramatic slow-downs.

She finished with a single-song encore, kind of an anomaly these days, doing "What Me Worry?" solo -- just like in the old days.

(Photo by Tod Seelie) 


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (0)
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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