Special feature: St. Vincent comes to Boston

The lights were dimmed almost to darkness. The hundreds of men and women all crowded into the House of Blues shuffled in anticipation. After more than an hour of pressing up against total strangers and staring up at the empty stage, the show finally started. Murmurs of excitement rippled through the audience, culminating in the raucous chanting of the name everyone had been waiting to hear from. With a sudden stream of light on center stage, the woman of the night walked out sheathed in a tight white dress with abstract red flowers and towering black heels. St. Vincent had arrived.

The indie pop-rock star  Annie Clark , better known as St. Vincent, visited Boston on Feb. 28 as a stop on her Digital Witness tour promoting her new, self-titled album. Her intense yet upbeat setlist consisted of a mix of 18 old and new songs followed by a more subdued three-song encore.

Her first song “Rattlesnake” off the new album was an electric start to the night with a fast-paced tempo and catchy beat. The crowd responded enthusiastically, bobbing their heads under the bright reflecting lights and even singing along. The tune showcased her airy vocals during the chorus while showing force and passion during the verses. From then on, it was clear her concert would be full of energy and contagious enthusiasm.

“Cruel” from her album Strange Mercy was an incredible departure from her otherwise pounding setlist. This time, the mood was set at hauntingly beautiful. Chilling lyrics like “forgive the kids, they don’t know how to live / run the allies casually cruel” left the crowd mesmerized. Her voice, now slightly husky and incredibly rich, transformed throughout the song for a pure and almost angelic chorus. However the highlight of the song was her vigorous guitar solo which echoed each note across the music hall and added to the eerie and ominous vibe. It quickly became apparent that St. Vincent is an incredibly multi-talented artist who can hold her own without the assistance of backup instruments.

Following “Cruel,” St. Vincent took a few minutes to personally address the audience in a somewhat standoffish manner. Her ethereal and almost inhuman presence showed as she began her speech by announcing she knew all about the crowd. She provided relatable childhood anecdotes with mysterious messages as well as references to the city of Boston, spanning from making forts out of bed sheets to riding the T from Allston. Her delivery was confusingly dreamlike, as if she was not sure where she was or as if she came from another planet. Either way, her lilting voice kept the audience wanting more until the start of her new single “Birth in Reverse.”

“Birth in Reverse” had all the captivating melodies to snap the crowd and St. Vincent herself out of the trance following her bizarre introduction. This song was more pop-oriented with fun lyrics to sing along to and a buoyant motif. The earlier disconnect was quickly erased, and a more down-to-earth St. Vincent recaptured the stage.
St. Vincent proved herself as an incredibly talented and dynamic artist, whose unique style thrilled her large and boisterous audience.

Isabel Meyers can be contacted at [email protected]