Live review: St. Vincent at the Met

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  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photograph: wagz2it

St. Vincent live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

If you're familiar with St. Vincent, you probably have Annie Clark's haunting, wide-eyed stare seared into your mind. Clark's unrelenting vacant gaze and poise are a perfect match for her beautiful, careful vocal style. But that facade dropped yesterday evening as she convulsed, eyes tightly closed, over her guitar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The show was set to happen on the museum's roof (in fact, it was meant to be the first-ever rooftop concert there), but rain earlier in the day forced it inside to the Temple of Dendur. As Clark began singing and her eerie voice echoed through the cavernous room, the move actually seemed like an upgrade. She eased into the set with a quiet number, and the tone was set for the rest of the show as she launched into a strong beat and took the volume up a few notches. Even the lighter songs carried through the room with force.  

Click past the jump for the full review

Clark already gave fans a treat that day with the debut of the video for "Cruel," the second track released from her upcoming album Strange Mercy. Not content to stop there, she played three new songs for the eager crowd—"Champagne Year," "Cheerleader," and "Year of the Tiger"—along with the previously released "Surgeon." Of the new material, "Champagne Year" was easily the most powerful and complex. It opened with a wall of synth that had the overwhelming feel of a church organ, building dramatically before fading as Clark's voice drifted in and a low drumbeat kicked in. When it was over, the audience let the ghostly synths hover a bit before releasing howls of approval.  

The high point, and the most quintessentially St. Vincent moment, came with a lovely, if unsettling, rendition of "Marrow." Of her catalog, the single stands out as darker and heavier, and not an ounce of that feeling was lost in the live performance. Her guitar spat out a grungy, driving rhythm backed by the synth, keyboards and drums, as her voice hung dissonantly overtop. When she leaned into the mike, eyes closed and black curls in her face, and moaned the repeating "h...e...l...p," it was impossible not to get the chills.

Less than an hour after she began, Clark announced the final song, and the crowd let out a collective "nooo" of disapproval. It all came to an end with the sun setting through the floor-to-ceiling windows and a screeching crescendo that could have awoken whatever Egyptian spirits might be lurking in the tomb. In the short time she controlled the stage, Clark reminded everyone why they can't free themselves from that eerie stare.  

Check out the video for "Cruel" to get a taste of Strange Mercy before it's out on September 13, and try not to let it haunt your dreams.

 

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