The Black Cat crowd was so noisy as St. Vincent -- aka 26-year-old ingenue Annie Clark -- performed a hushed, solo version of "Oh My God" that you'd think she was a basketball player on the road team shooting a free throw at the end of a big game. "Please, shut up!" one guy shouted. No dice. "Shut up!" he begged again. Sorry. The chattering classes barely relented. If you weren't in the first few rows, you had a better chance of hearing about the latest drama at the office than whatever Clark was singing about.
To be fair, it was kind of boring as Clark slowly sauntered through the tune, which was basically a vocal exercise with brief bits of muted guitar. She has a lovely, flawless voice, but when that's the only element she presents, things can get a bit monotonous. "Oh My God," a recent b-side, was the only song of that sort, though. The rest of the Friday night's performance featured the immaculately constructed, pocket-sized symphonies that have, deservedly, made her a rising star with the indie intelligentsia.
The wide-eyed Clark led her four-piece backing band through slinky songs such as "Save Me From What I Want" and "Marry Me," which tiptoed their way through subtle shifts as Clark's angelic vocals floated serenely on top. At times her three band members were playing flute, clarinet and violin, so you know things rarely got too rambunctious. They never got overly precious, either, even if a rock club on a Friday night wasn't the best place to appreciate the understated chrarms of he songs. "Actor Out of Work," a straightforward guitar-rocker that recalled a girlier Breeders, was one of the few songs to successfully drown out the talkers.
By the time the encore rolled around the Shush Patrol was out in full force -- it sounded like the audience members were making their own "Ocean Sounds" recording. This time their efforts were a bit more fruitful, but Clark never seemed too concerned. Perhaps she was even enjoying, knowing that a future playing in high-priced, stuffy theaters no doubt awaits her.
--David Malitz, May 2009