The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

St. Vincent's Clark has breakthrough, brings her guitar wizardry to Black Keys tour

  • Print

NEW YORK, N.Y. - After watching a video of St. Vincent's performance at a British rock festival this summer, an anonymous music fan posted a succinct review.

"It's bonkers," the viewer wrote. "But fascinating, original and strangely addictive."

St. Vincent, the stage name for singer-songwriter Annie Clark, continues a big year with a full autumn of touring, including a plum slot opening for the Black Keys. Her fourth album, "St. Vincent," had her highest Billboard chart debut (No. 12), she played on the season finale of "Saturday Night Live" and filled in for Kurt Cobain at Nirvana's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. She's turning heads — not just her own — at concerts.

Clark complements her guitar playing with simple yet odd stage choreography, often in unison with keyboard player Toko Yasuda: head swivels, leverlike arm movements and skittering, birdlike movements across the stage in high heels.

The sense of whimsy most obviously recalls David Byrne. Clark has recorded and toured with the former Talking Heads frontman, and both work with choreographer Annie-B Parson. People who first saw St. Vincent perform on "SNL" were intrigued or bewildered. A small number hated it, Clark said.

"I like a little bit of mischief," she said.

St. Vincent begins a 14-date U.S. tour Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina, then heads overseas for a punishing 33-date schedule that ends in Lisbon before coming back to the United States to open arena gigs for the Black Keys in December. The big mystery is how fans of the two-piece blues rockers will respond to Clark's act when the two join forces.

"Devo is one of my favourite bands, and there are things about her show that remind (me) of them in the best possible way," said Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. "I am sure the crowds are going to be very into her show. I know when she played 'SNL' some people didn't get it. But when Devo played in 1978 I am sure there were plenty of people totally baffled as well."

The guitar is what connects the two acts, and Clark said she'll emphasize it. She can shred, too. "Anyone who has the slightest appreciation for the electric guitar should be able to get into her music," Carney said.

Clark, 31, grew up in the Dallas area and is now a New Yorker. She studied for three years at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and played in the choral group Polyphonic Spree and with Surfjan Stevens before striking out on her own.

She has an image, not totally accurate, of being very private. The modern-day habit of people living their lives in public through social media is the subject of her song "Digital Witness," and clearly that's not for her. She wants her public exposure to have cultural, not curiosity, value.

"I think that's been characterized as being private," she said, "when I'm really just a little picky."

While the arty, angular music on "St. Vincent," where Clark's guitar sails on a sea of synths, is reminiscent of the 1980s, many of Clark's musical heroes are rooted in jazz (John Coltrane) or 1990s rock: PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, Nirvana.

That made it particularly meaningful when the surviving Nirvana members decided to invite some female vocalists, including Clark, to fill in for Cobain at the Rock Hall induction. Her only prior connection to the band was meeting Dave Grohl once at a party. Clark sang "Lithium."

"It was intimidating in terms of my own affection for Nirvana and wanting to honour the legacy as best I could," she said. "It's not often that someone says, 'Here, fill in for your hero.' I was struck by how it was really a joyful thing. It was still bittersweet. Everyone wishes that Kurt was still alive."

At one point during the performance, Grohl looks at her with a wide, admiring smile from behind the drums. Clark never knew; she hasn't watched it.

"It's too emotional," she said.

____

Online:

http://ilovestvincent.com/

____

David Bauder can be reached at dbauder@ap.org or on Twitter@dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: NDP Self-Destruction

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government force band chiefs and councillors to disclose their salary information?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google