An interesting evening of music. St Vincent and Arc Iris. Both very talented individuals. Both, I think it’s safe to say, are slightly mad.
I’ve seen Arc Iris before. They’re definitely interesting and enjoyable to watch. Mixing multiple musical genres together to create their own unique sound. In some ways, they’re a Prog Rock band. Interested in exploring their own musical virtuosity at the expense of the ‘accessibility of their music’. Personally, I didn’t like everything they played, (or is on the album). But I’d rather listen to something that challenges my musical taste that’s done very proficiently, than just yet another bland indie band.
St Vincent. How do you describe Annie Clark? (am I the only one who thinks her real name is a better name than her moniker?) Is she a musical genius or is she unhinged? I’m really not sure. I’ve never seen Prince perform. But I get the feeling, I would feel exactly the same as I did tonight watching him.
I have to admit, I have some of her albums. I find they contain many interesting ideas, I like her voice, and I think her guitar playing is great. But I don’t ‘love’ the albums. Tonight was similar (I think Prince would be the same).
St Vincent has complete control over her stage presence. Every move, every stroke of the guitar, her stage set, the lighting, everything, is controlled to create the vision St Vincent wants. It’s not surprising. Her videos always and album covers always have a very strong visual identity. Even the way she styles herself is designed to create a very clear ‘St Vincent’ brand. This control in the live arena both enhances and undermines the live experience. I know, I’m not making sense. I’m struggling to put into words my feelings of the evening. Maybe some photo examples.
I like a good tight show. But I like tight bands that can make music feel spontaneous. St Vincent choreographs her shows. Clearly the band around her are tight. But instead of using the tightness to create ‘spontaneous’ music. She creates staged moments that become the focus and in some way detracting from the music. It all adds to the ‘weirdness’ of St Vincent. Clearly enhancing her ‘brand’. But when you’re a really talented musician, do you need to have a brand? I’d put her guitar playing amongst the best I’ve seen this year. Her vocals are fantastic. She really is bloody talented. So I was left feeling cheated in some way. I think I’d rather see her and her band in a tiny club stripped of the stage presence and the choreography, with Annie Clark blowing me away with her awesome guitar skills. When you’re this talented, you don’t need gimmick.