The Austin Chronicle

ACL Live Review: St. Vincent

By Abby Johnston, October 7, 2018, 11:45am, Earache!

At most, a typical festival set competes with a warring, cross-park performance. On Saturday night, St. Vincent pulled up against Brett Kavanaugh.

Hours before the Dallas native’s ACL appearance, the U.S. Senate approved Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment in a 50-48 vote. For many women who hoped that reopening and publicly probing painful wounds would make a difference, it was devastating. St. Vincent, in her omnipotence, could feel it.

“It just reminds me that no matter how much insane shit is going on outside of here, this moment is ours,” Annie Clark, the woman behind the moniker, offered between songs. “There’s a reason to dance.”

And dance we did. We swung our hips through the sexy groove of “Los Ageless,” which Clark ended in a guttural “whoa.” We bounced around to the frenetic energy of “Pills,” only stopping to watch Clark shred the shit out of a guitar solo, which will never not be an incredible experience.

Clark seemed to be hyper charged, though she wasn’t always as overt as punching her first in the air and screaming “Fight the power,” which she did shortly after taking the stage. Her voice, normally understated if pristine, crackled with electricity, taking on new heft. The already riotous guitar lines of “Rattlesnake” took on extra venom that seeped into the stage lighting, which flashed at triple time as Clark ripped up and down her frets.

Closer “New York” manifested through several moments of a cappella vulnerability. In a time when simply being a woman can feel like an act of resistance, Clark’s thigh-high boots and latex bustier equalled full-on rebellion.

As the set wound down, she launched “Fast Slow Disco” – one of those rare remixes that’s better than the original – to which even the last few stationary holdouts started to sway. What Clark had insisted finally came true: the moment really did belong to the crowd.

“Don’t it beat a slow dance to death?” she sang, her voice soaring effortlessly into the scales.

From St. Vincent, that answer is always yes.

Copyright © 2019 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.