I caught St. Vincent last night. She had played a show in Pittsburgh back in 2010, which put her on my radar. But I never really checked her out. I guess she’s blown up , playing to about 1,500 at Stage AE.
Well St. Vincent is very polished. She’s put a lot of work into her stage show. Choreography, lighting, hair & makeup. It comes off a bit theatrical. I guess I like a bit more rawness and spontaneity, not the same set, hitting the same marks every night. I didn’t realize she’s a Berklee chick, and her uncle is Tuck Andress (virtuoso jazz guitarist). Comes across in her guitar playing, she’s got a good sense of time. Can’t say I was that into her lead playing. It’s kind a angular and jagged, without any arc. Doesn’t go anywhere. Every story has to have a beginning, middle and end as per Aristotle. There were moments where I really dug her rhythm playing, though. The art of guitar playing has been so marginalized in the era of synth-pop that I think it’s hella cool she’s putting it out there. She does have a point of view: dime store guitars and finger-style playing. “Picks are for kids,” as Charlie Hunter once said, which I can appreciate.
I did like her keyboard player, Daniel Mintseris, just one of these old pros who’s played with tons of people (David Byrne, Talking Heads, Marianne Faithfull). Spot on the whole night. Prob. just one of those MF’ers who started studying piano at age 4. The drummer seemed familiar. Turned out it was Matt Johnson, who played with Jeff Buckley. Listen to Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over" for the quintessential Matt Johnson shuffle, one of my fav. tracks of all time. I actually thought his style was a bit ’90s’ and a bit too laid back for St. Vincent’s music.
Given her vocal & songwriting abilities, I don’t think she’d be semi-famous if she wasn’t really, really good looking. But hey, that’s show business. She’s way more talented than most people getting traction out there, though, I just nit-pick for an unreachable ‘perfection’. I’ll check her out again. She’s still kind of a mash up of influences, it’ll be interesting to see where she goes.