The Austin Chronicle

St. Vincent Connects the Dots

By Rachel Rascoe, February 23, 2018, 11:05am, Earache!

Examining the past decade through the lens of her grandiose pop, all roads lead to Annie Clark’s fifth LP as St. Vincent, October’s Masseduction. Thursday at the Moody Theater, the first of two nights locally on the Fear the Future Tour, the Dallas-reared singer-songwriter-shredder turned back the clock and expectation to her musical origins.

Following years of chamber pop catharsis, a brazen, self-titled fourth album in 2014 pushed Clark into a larger orbit, snagging a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. Since then, the Oklahoma-born enigma fell prey to gossip column squalor in light of relationships with high profile celebrities Cara Delevingne and Kristen Stewart. Adding producer Jack Antonoff, a Lorde and Taylor Swift collaborator, pushed her further into the limelight.

All of this plays out in a big way on Masseduction. The work’s aggressive vulnerability and accompanying, sleekly sardonic marketing addressed the frenzy. “Masseduction is different, it’s pretty first person,” she explained in promotional materials. “You can’t fact-check it, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.”

In this same vein, she invited her aunt and uncle – Eighties-launched jazz duo Tuck & Patti – to open the current tour. Clark apprenticed as a teen roadie and tour manager for the duo. Between rousing renditions of Jimi Hendrix standard “Castles Made of Sand” and Santana’s instrumental epic “Europa,” the warm-up act doted warmly over their headlining niece to a packed-out floor audience.

“We knew Annie before Annie knew Annie. She’ll always be Annie to us, regardless of if she was canonized,” lauded the twosome’s guitar virtuoso, Tuck Andress.

The aforementioned saint began her 100-plus minutes onstage revisiting her artistic debut, 2007 title track “Marry Me.” She emerged far left through a split in the curtain, still and statuesque in hot pink, Barbie doll vinyl. Each subsequent trip down memory lane prompted a new shade of her self-designed Ernie Ball guitar, delivered by fetish-themed attendants, as well as a subsequent pull of the drapes.

The final stage reveal on “Cruel” teased the tour’s biggest exclusive – no backing band. It was just Clark, nimbly executing strobe-lit manic shredding and faux-stumbling, stiletto choreography. For the second half of the show, her Jane Jetson look went silver, and viewers embarked on the new era of St. Vincent.

Blasting through every song on Masseduction, the forceful one-woman show fronted unsettling, hyper-feminine imagery. On the video screens behind her, syringes and gauze accessorized pearls and lipstick. Morph-suited figures contorted on yoga mats. Clark filmed a press interview with a kinkily-clad crew.

Amid the visual ambush, standout single “New York” served as gentle intermediate between Clark’s past and present sound. Breaking character beforehand, she ad libbed a silly, Austinized version of the track’s city-centric chorus. The outspoken Lone Star booster even mentioned that she’d “been to at least two keg parties here when my sister was at UT.”

Cue the Texan whoops.

The home state admission broke a revealing chip off the show’s latex exterior. Curated as cold and ostentatious, the performance’s Day-Glo dominatrix packaged Clark’s current artistic phase, but couldn’t conceal her natural affability. As such, St. Vincent played out her musical timeline boldly exposed.

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