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The evening at Terminal 5 began with the always intriguing Holly Herndon. A former Berlin club kid turned electronic music grad student at Stanford, Herndon creates some of the most interesting music coming out of a laptop. In many ways Holly’s set was a perfect lead-in for the night. A thoughtfully blended hybrid of academia meets dance-blip. The Ghost In The Machine is alive and well…and has a groove!
The last time St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, passed through NYC, it was with David Byrne. This time she was the star, filling a sold out Terminal 5 with her unique brand of odd-pop. Blending wonderfully quirky orchestrations with intelligent and inquisitive lyrics sung by a voice that can twist from sweet purr to a growl. Topping college charts while winning the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award last year is an indication of how any simple description of her work cannot do it justice.
Ms. Clark came on stage in full automaton mode—back to that Ghost in the Machine theme. Her stuttering propulsive dance moves were certainly reminiscent of Davie Byrne at his most jittery. (Perhaps a lesson learned from last year’s tour?) Mixing old hits with what are sure to become new ones from her brand new self-titled album, St. Vincent continues to show growth as an artist, both musically and lyrically. If there is one thing that the new songs share, it’s a strong beat—everything is danceable. And yet the beat, like most things about St. Vincent, is never purely straightforward. There is always an unusual syncopation and edge to her music. But it’s easier to feed new sounds to a crowd if they have a groove to back them up, and the crowd last night sure seemed to have no problem eating it up.
Photos and words by Robert Altman.