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Review: St. Vincent at Deluxe 

***

St. Vincent, Shearwater
Thursday, May 10
Deluxe at Old National Centre

One couldn't be blamed for wondering why there were so many tour buses and semi trucks in the Old National Centre parking lot for the St. Vincent show. The answer was quickly revealed by the marquee:

DAUGHTRY
ST. VINCENT

One may also wonder why someone like Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, isn't as "popular" as someone like Chris Daughtry. The answers to that aren't as obvious.

Looking like a curly haired china doll, Clark took the stage along with a keyboardist, Minimoogist, a huge-earphoned drummer and her guitar and kicked off the set with the Zappa-esque melodies of "Marrow," followed by the aggressively lush synths of "Cheerleader."

Remnants of Captain Beefheart live on in "Chloe in the Afternoon," during which Clark repeatedly smacked herself upside the head. The sold-out crowd stood rapt, waiting for her to break. She didn't, giving a female audience member the opportunity to yell "Sex!" at the end of the song. It was difficult to determine whether Clark heard the shout when she said shortly thereafter, "Hi, we're Daughtry!" This joke, used initially by opener Shearwater, was repeated a few times, each (somewhat surprisingly) eliciting laughs.

Forced inter-song humor notwithstanding, Clark is a commanding force onstage, adding just the right dose of neurosis to her movements to add a touch of danger to her allure.

Which is much-appreciated, as some older songs, like "Save Me From What I Want" - which featured mundane guitar noodling - show how much she's improved/grown in just a few years.

After Clark put the final nail in the "We're Daughtry!" joke coffin, the band launched into the popular "Actor Out of Work," then "Dilettante," a slow burn made more interesting when Clark leaned against a column and writhed a bit while finishing the song and gently abusing her guitar.

She does this amazingly well, especially in songs like "Black Rainbow," which had its slight Disney sound cracked with her jagged guitar tones.

For whatever reason, Clark took a few minutes to explain the plot of her latest video, in which she's abducted, jokingly saying it has "layers of meaning."

Based on other show reviews, Clark uses the same shtick nightly (see "VH1 Storytellers" references). But she's talented enough to switch things up, which she doesn't do often enough: "Surgeon" offered opportunities for extended jams, but instead just sputtered out in an end of noise.

The sleepytime sound of "Champagne Year" did nothing to rouse the hot roomful of people. Thankfully, it was followed by a song in which she shadowboxed with a Theremin: a gimmick that was entertaining to watch, but not necessarily nice to listen to.

St. Vincent wrapped the set with a cover of The Pop Group's "She Is Beyond Good and Evil," and of course, a story to precede it: The band's singer gave Clark a gift when he met her: A Sid Vicious dish scrubber called "Sid Dishes." "This is what's become of punk," he said to Clark. The calculatedly sloppy version of the song unfortunately reinforced that sentiment.

As in the past, Clark went into the crowd toward the end of the show to sing Record Store Day track "Krokodil." After a short break, she and the band came back out for "Your Lips Are Red."

Shearwater opened the night in their first visit to Indy. The "We are Daughtry!" joke, having not yet been used onstage, added some levity to otherwise serious-sounding songs which evoked Elbow and Springsteen. Sometimes the band plodded along slowly, other times they rocked, but most fans may as well have been at an art gallery: Even with two drum sets in one song, the band couldn't get the crowd moving.

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