She is the Spectacle: St. Vincent at the Danforth Music Hall (Mar 3, 2015)

binkleyI know Pal. I am way overdue for a post. I have to admit, I struggled with this one. Not in the topic.  I knew exactly what I wanted the post to be about, but I wanted this one to be a doozy. I thought I needed more time on this one. I was moved greatly by what we saw that night about a month ago. Maybe one of the best shows I have ever seen. St. Vincent (a.k.a Annie Clark) at the Danforth Music Hall. It was a revelation for me.


I wanted this post be as big as that show was using stories from my life as a pastiche to the wonderful encounter that meant so much to me.

I wanted to talk about the encounter we had with a large and georgeous amazon model type woman and that pipsqueak of a man that was clinging to her arm. She had it all together and it was clear that she was too much woman for him. Just like I had originally thought St. Vincent’s music was for me. It had this mammoth sound, and I was just this little pipsqueak clinging to it, trying to understand it.

I wanted to discuss women in music. How I never really listened to too many women musicians when I was young. How that was probably due to inequalities and double standards in the music world (limiting what was available) and a young Pal wearing musical blinders, shielded from all the great women musicians that existed at the time. I wanted to discuss how that was a real shame, and how that had totally changed in recent years to the point where I am probably buying and listening to more women musicians than men now. It has been an amazing last few years musically especially for women artists and I wanted to talk about how St. Vincent was at the pinnacle of that for me.

I wanted to talk about my daughter and how she built her own radio from a kit and how she listens to that primitive radio in her room at night before going to bed (and not just to Pop stations). I catch her listening to Jazz, Latin, Funk….you name it. Like she had hacked into to this unusual alien world full of great music. It smacks of stories I heard of how legend musicians, as kids, would stay up to the wee hours listening to these mind bending musical blues, jazz and folk acts. This shaped the future of Rock and Roll. Now my kid is doing this with her ancient looking radio she built herself. What will that shape in her? I bet St. Vincent did stuff like that. She must have been exposed to so many musical styles for her to achieve such a unique sound of her own.

I wanted to talk about all of these things. I wanted there to be this grand narrative that was stitched all through those stories. I don’t know about what. Maybe a strong optimism about where music is heading. How there seems to be a strong inclusive feeling in music these days where every unique artist can be heard. Where originality is rewarded. How a young girl listening to Funk in the middle of the night, on a radio she built by hand, can feel free to have an artistic outlet for all the crazy amazing music she might want to make herself. How young boys are hopefully more willing/able to get behind strong and powerful women musicians without them having to sacrifice their integrity with  cartoonish sexualisation (I am looking at you Nicky Minaj).

I wanted the post to reach its peak by reviewing the St. Vincent concert. I wanted all of it to mesh into a Magnolia style crescendo with frogs raining down on anyone reading this post. I was that blown away by her show.

Everything I heard on podcasts or read in magazines said that the St. Vincent show was the best show going right now. For some reason, I was anticipating a visual wonderland. With lights and props and lots of things for the eyeballs to feast on.

There really wasn’t much. There was a wedding cake like pyramid that was used to great effect (especially when she slow motion fell down it for 5 minutes) but that was it.

There were choreographed physical movements by Annie and the band. Robotic-like posing routines.  My favourite was the short stepping they did across the stage. Their feet were working like crazy, but from our vantage point it looked like they were just floating across the stage as they played. Simple and very  effective.

Other than that, there wasn’t much in the way of frills and flash. It was all Annie Clark and her amazingly tight band. That was the delicious meat of the show for our ears to feast on. Annie Clark’s presence was all my eyes needed. Although she is gorgeous, I am talking about her command of the stage, her interstitial speeches, the out-there artistic liberties she took, and most of all, her lightning fast fingers shredding blazing riffs and avant solos. Amazing.

To show how big it was for me, I wanted all this fanfare behind my review of the show.  I wanted a monumental post. Full of production and insight, with some grandiose statement on the big picture (whatever that might have been). I wanted my post to be a spectacle.

But, what I realized in reflecting on the show was that none of that is relevant. It isn’t needed. St. Vincent alone was the spectacle.  I just feel glad that we witnessed it.

I fell into the trap of thinking that the show needed more than St. Vincent. Just like I thought my post needed more than it is.

It didn’t.

Later Pal.


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