Hail St. Vincent

Review: Annie Clark rewards Ithaca’s surprising turnout with a legendary performance.

Hoards of college students and locals pressed the stage at local dive bar Castaways in Ithaca to get a glimpse of St. Vincent and lead singer, Annie Clark. Clark approached the microphone with her soft eyes and her innocently sweet voice, and as the band opened up with their hit single, “Strangers,” Clark let out her silky voice.

After a forgettable opening effort by local Ithaca act, The Red Lions, Annie Clark owned the show with her mind-boggling vocal range, Frankenstein dance steps, and savage guitar skills. The indie rock princess proved yet again that she deserves all the hype surrounding her this year.

Photo: Nathan Mattise
The Red Lions opened for St. Vincent at Castaways in Ithaca.

Even with a folk-style voice, she changed her pitch with ease and zapped the audience with gut-busting guitar solos. As she marched and swerved in her black stockings and messy curly afro, Clark teased the audience with soft and slow ballads like “Party” and then wall-pounding noise-rock anthems like “Marrow.”

In person, Clark sometimes looked like a walking imposter of Bob Dylan in the 1960s as she treaded lightly in an all-black outfit, a soft voice, and lyrics that told a story. Other times, she summoned Jimmy Page’s guitar like she was casting witchcraft spells on stage. Her voice alone could lull you to sleep like an angel in the clouds, and other times, she seduced you with a sultry swagger.

Clark’s supporting cast guided her magnificently through versatile instrument playing and classy stage presence. The band was comprised of a wide range of classical instruments, including saxophone, flute, clarinet, and violin.

It didn’t take long for Clark to win over the approval of her audience as they cried out her name in love and worship.

“I think this is the best show we’ve had on this tour yet,” Clark pronounced.

With an encore, Clark played a cover song, “Dig a Pony,” by The Beatles. Castaways erupted with enthusiasm and energy as Clark did her best John Lennon impersonation. Methodically, she grazed her fingers tips along her tight strings and sturdy frets, and closed the night showing her appreciation for her fans by playing two more songs and humbly waving goodbye.  

It was Annie Clark’s first trip to Ithaca, and she said she didn’t expect anyone to show up. Even with St. Vincent’s sky-rocketing popularity, Ithaca still wasn’t small enough to put on a display, and the crowd loved her for it. In the end, Ithaca and Clark were a match-made-in-heaven.

Sounding off on St. Vincent

Hear what Jett and Nate had to say immediately after the St. Vincent show.

Sights from the show

More St. Vincent videos from Nate.

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