Home / Concert Reviews / St. Vincent @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Monday, April 7, 2014

St. Vincent @ Turner Hall Ballroom

April 4, 2014

st. vincent annie clark milwaukee turner hall ballroom digital 2014 erik ljung
Photo credit: Erik Ljung
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While she had definitely been building up steam before collaborating with David Byrne, there’s no denying that heading into the studio (and out on the road) with the iconoclastic former Talking Heads frontman was an enormous boon to St. Vincent’s eclectic career. But if the rampant success of their Love This Giant album in 2012 thrust the Tulsa-born singer/multi-instrumentalist and Berklee College of Music dropout also known as Annie Clark onto a much larger soapbox, she certainly made the most of the opportunity, wasting no time getting to work on the new St. Vincent which, from the eponymous title on down, seems intended to confidently, ambitiously reintroduce the public to St. Vincent, solo artist. The effort has paid off too, as was glaringly obvious by the sell-out crowd that excitedly packed into Turner Hall Ballroom Friday night.

As the lights went down, a loud cheer went up, and from somewhere offstage an automated computer voice ironically introduced the Digital Witness Tour by admonishing the crowd against experiencing the performance through their smartphone screen, a now thankfully common concert-going guilt trip which proved largely, but by no means wholly, effective. As annoying as it is to have your view blocked by some dope taking blurry video, it’s easy to understand why someone would want to capture a portion of the show, since from the very first moments it was an enjoyable visual spectacle, full of offbeat choreography drenched in stylish lighting techniques. Joining Clark were the three members of her smartly recruited backing band, drummer keyboardist Daniel Mintseris, drummer Matt Johnson and Toko Yasuda on synthesizer and guitar, who filled out the stage and the sound nicely.

Musically, the setlist covered most of the new release, some highlights being the show-opening “Rattlesnake” and “Birth in Reverse,” but also dipped into her back catalog for older material, like Actor’s “Laughing with a Mouthful of Blood” and “Cheerleader” from 2011’s Strange Mercy, before wrapping up with an encore that included a crowd-pleasing cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium,” presumably to honor the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Interspersed between songs, which often showed off her considerable guitar chops, were stretches of what you might call stage banter, but was really more of a sort of hybrid between spoken word and absurdist standup comedy, mostly covering the shared strangeness of our day-to-day lives. It was a minor but memorable part of a cohesive, elaborate performance, one which made a convincing case for St. Vincent’s particular brand of arty pop.