Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, played her first headlining show in New York City last night at The Bowery Ballroom. Surely you've read something about this Austin songwriter at this point, as her face has been dominating the music headlines for the past few weeks. In the midst of The Reminder, she's gotten the Feist comparison over and over (an unwarranted one) and her new album, Marry Me, is the talk of the (blog) town. I had the pleasure of seeing her open up for John Vanderslice a few months back at the smaller Mercury Lounge in New York, which after last night, seemed like a different artist playing a different record. At the Mercury Lounge, Ms. Clark played by her lonesome, constantly switching back from her clean microphone to her old radio microphone. St. Vincent was a full band last night with drums, violin, bass, and some pre-taped vocal parts. Ms. Clark turned herself into some sort of a guitar hero last night by adding distortion to her guitar and playing her songs as they appear on Marry Me with full orchestration, instead of the stripped down versions she played at The Mercury Lounge. She might give off a Feist vibe at points, but she is more of a white Billie Holiday that loves Bjork, Joni Mitchell, and Woody Allen. She doesn't take herself too seriously and her lyrics often have some sort of punch line that she makes sure the audience knows is coming by opening her eyes wide as if she's doing standup while singing.
I must admit that part of the reason that I enjoyed St. Vincent's music so much at first was because of her solo performance. Her voice is her powerhouse instrument (although she really can wail on the guitar) and it shined through much more powerfully without all the nuances of a full RAWK! band. But that's not to say that her show last night wasn't fantastic. She played most of the songs off of her album and while visibly nervous, managed to recreate the hyper-endearing banter between songs that will instantly win over anyone who ever sees her. The title-track off of Marry Me seems to be her live anthem and she later explained that originally the lyrics were "Marry Me, Dude" instead of "Marry Me, John." Bravo. Marry Me is out now on Beggars.