St Vincent Live at the Roundhouse (2014)

A precisely choreographed piece of theatre and a sexual punk freak-out.

When Annie Clark touched down at the Roundhouse Theatre in London on October 25th, it was unclear what to expect. Would it be a rock concert? An art piece? Somewhere to dance? An intimate night of music? The result was something that lay between a precisely choreographed piece of theatre and a sexual punk freak-out. The opener, Coves, were quite enjoyable with some delicate singing, interesting guitar riffs, and a heavy bass and drum beat supporting it all. But they were no doubt left disappointed by a lack-luster audience that clapped half-heartedly after each song, waiting for St. Vincent to take the stage. Take the stage she (or perhaps it should be they) did, opening with Rattlesnake, with the mix somehow increasing in volume tenfold compared to Coves, so that the songs seemed to burrow violently into your head. When playing guitar, if she was not following choreography, St. Vincent would thrust violently with her guitar, playing with a raw sexuality that brought to mind Prince and Jimi Hendrix’s onstage antics. In between songs harsh auditory landscapes of uneven rhythms and movement would fill the room, forcing the audience to feel something and stop head-banging momentarily to stare around the room at the people around them. The songs themselves came from all of her releases, but centered mostly on the most recent eponymous album. The ultimate moment came during the encore when the band stretched Your Lips Are Red, a five minute song, into a thirty minute trip of unpredictable bass and synths while Annie Clark writhed around on stage, smashing her head on the floor, spitting and cursing at her manger from the shoulders of a security guard, and trying to throw her guitar into the audience. It was glorious.

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