Last night I had the pleasure of attending one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. For anyone who didn’t get a chance to see St. Vincent’s Fear the Future Tour at the Old National Centre, I’ll do my best to break down the experience.
The concert was split up into three sets, the first of which was the presentation of a short film directed by Annie Clark (St. Vincent). The title of the film was “The Birthday Party”, and served as Clark’s directorial debut. The film follows a disheveled mother played by Melanie Lynskey, who, on the day of her 8-year-old daughter’s birthday, finds the body of her suicidal husband slumped in their home office. She frantically attempts to hide the body for the sake of her daughter, dodging overly-friendly neighbors, a rapping panda, and the guests that begin to arrive.
The film manages to find a balance between black humor and the dark horror of the situation. Through it all, Clark demonstrates her keen eye for visually-striking shots with bold colors and a stellar soundtrack. “The Birthday Party” was based off of actual events that happened to one of Clark’s friends, and is also part of a female-driven horror anthology called, “XX”.
I have to say, I was at first a little skeptical when I heard that St. Vincent was experimenting in film. You never quite know what to expect when established creatives begin stretching their wings in new mediums. But I wasn’t disappointed. With “The Birthday Party”, Annie Clark shows that she can bring the same talent and vision to a visual medium that she does to her music.
A short, thirty-minute intermission followed the presentation of “The Birthday Party”. When the lights went out to signal the start of the second set, the curtain opened just enough to show St. Vincent standing at a microphone. She then launched into the song, “Marry Me”, starting the set off with a more intimate performance. The second set was filled with songs from St. Vincent’s previous albums. These included favorites such as “The Strangers”, “Actor Out Of Work”, “Cheerleader”, and more. At the start of each new song, the curtain opened wider until the whole stage was visible, and Annie grabbed her guitar.
The entire first set seemed to be Clark building up the audience, and possibly her own courage, as “MASSEDUCTION” is a more personal album for her.
The third set started off with a bang. After a quick outfit change, St. Vincent took the stage once more. This time, each song that she played was from “MASSEDUCTION”, and featured an accompanying video component played on the big screen the stage. Once again, St. Vincent was showing everyone her skill at crafting popping visuals. Many of these video accompaniments were in the form of static images or repetitive video loops, each with their own color scheme, and coupled with an elaborate light show and pulsing strobe lights from the stage. Both the music and the visuals had a way of sticking in your head, and it was clear that Clark was crafting an experience not to be forgotten.
St. Vincent performed all of her songs alone on stage with her guitar and a backing track playing through the house speakers. Her guitar-playing was on point, too, at every frenetic, static-filled solo. Watching St. Vincent perform her songs was everything it promised to be, and she held nothing back.
In between songs, Clark didn’t speak much to the audience except for the occasional cry of “Indianapolis!”, which was always met with enthusiastic cheering. The most she said at once was before going into her song, “New York”. She joked that she really wanted to write this song about Indianapolis, but the city had too many syllables for her purposes. Before plucking the first notes, she encouraged the audience to imagine ‘Indianapolis’ in place of ‘New York’. It was a nice touch.
Fear The Future
All in all, I could not be happier that I attended. If you’re by chance reading this and live in another city, I strongly urge you to go and buy your tickets now for St. Vincent’s Fear The Future Tour. It’s well worth the money and time, and I promise you won’t regret it. In fact, I predict that it will stick around in your head long after the music has stopped and the lights go out.