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St. Vincent Resurrected Punk Rock and Slayed the Miami Zombie at The Stage, May 31

See the full 21-photo slideshow from St. Vincent at The Stage.

St. Vincent

With ANR

Presented by Mute Miami

The Stage, Miami

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Better Than: Bath salts and anxiety attacks.

Annie Clark is a real rock star.

Unlike those shallow pop stars all about presentation and looking pretty, Clark, as her musical alter-ego St. Vincent, is real and raw as hell.

Her music and emotions always take center stage.

Last night at The Stage, she slipped into the spotlight at 1:15 a.m., surrounded by screaming fans, and went straight into "Marrow."

"H-E-L-P, help me, help me," she sang. But the scene was a far cry from the kind of emotional low described in that song's lyrics. And when St. Vincent finished, all you heard was love.

"Thank you Miami," she said. "It's good to be here in this beautiful city with a lot of beautiful people. That's a good night. That's a great night as far as I'm concerned."

St. Vincent Resurrected Punk Rock and Slayed the Miami Zombie at The Stage, May 31
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

This was St. Vincent's first-ever Miami performance. And judging by the crowd's reaction, it has been a long time coming. Without a doubt, Ms. Clark can rest assured that she's got plenty of fans down here in the subtropics.

Next, she ripped into "Cheerleader," leaning into her guitar as it crunched and wailed. Her instrument is a direct extension of her body. And when Clark moves with that axe, it seems as if they're one entity connected by something more than long hours of practice. It's easy to see why Spin Magazine included her on its list of greatest guitar players.

Fans stood rapt, recording whole songs with their camera phones, transfixed by the performance. Every song was punctuated by the loudest uproar of appreciation.

St. Vincent Resurrected Punk Rock and Slayed the Miami Zombie at The Stage, May 31
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

She introduced "Dilettane," a song about her home in New York City, and how sometimes she can feel as if she loves and hates it at the same time.

"I'm sure you get that feeling about your city. Like, you love it. But it sometimes gets the best of you," she said. "But I'm not going to mention that thing you think I will ... I'm not going to mention bath-salt zombies."

Sometimes, when singing, Clark lifted her right hand in the air, as if she were swearing on the Bible, and closed her eyes. The soft red and blue lights enhanced the calm of these quiet moments. But then the entire room was blasted by strobe-like flashes as the choruses got loud and heavy.

St. Vincent Resurrected Punk Rock and Slayed the Miami Zombie at The Stage, May 31
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

"I'm going to give a little shout out, oddly enough, to my mom. We actually co-wrote this next song, sort of," Clark said, explaining how, for "Year of the Tiger," on her newest album Strange Mercy, she incorporated a little melody that her mother played ad nauseum on the piano.

"I called her and asked ... can I turn it into a riff. She said 'call my lawyer.'"

And let it be known, she's backed by a group of wonderful musicians who seemed to feel the music as much as Clark and the crowd. The singer and guitarist took time to introduce each member, as well as the guys in the sound and lighting crew, which seemed to show a real acknowledgement that this show wasn't just by and about her.

St. Vincent Resurrected Punk Rock and Slayed the Miami Zombie at The Stage, May 31
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Before leaving the stage for an encore, Clark made her big rock star move, pulling the mike off the stand and jumping right into the arms of the crowd, singing with her legs in the air as they carried her from front to back, and then returned her to the stage again.

The band walked off, only to be urged back with a chant of "Annie, Annie, Annie." And yes, they came back for an encore, finishing the night with a palpably raw rendition of "Your Lips Are Red." Clark stood silently moving with her guitar, totally engrossed in it as it wailed and the crowd chanted the chorus for her.

"Your skin so fair, it's not fair," we sang, over and over. It was kind of intense, really. And she put her hand up, eyes closed, and almost conducted their voices, joining in the chant for the final couple of lines.

St. Vincent Resurrected Punk Rock and Slayed the Miami Zombie at The Stage, May 31
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

"Goodnight Miami," Clark said in the kind of voice that's simultaneously tired and blissful, as if she'd been totally worn out by this good time. In a way, Miami made love to St. Vincent last night. Let's hope no one's pregnant.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: That bitch blew me away. She's so punk rock, it's almost unfair.

The Crowd: Hip music-lovers in tight pants and fedoras who refused to dance to the killer DJ set between acts. You know, because people in Miami are stupid and/or crippled with insecurity. That's right, you're put on blast.

Sam of Gainesville Says: "I thought she was amazing and beautiful ... I'm glad she crowdsurfed. I thought she would be too cool for that."

St. Vincent's Setlist

-"Marrow"

-"Cheerleader"

-"Chloe in the Afternoon"

-"Save Me From What I Want"

-"Actor Out of Work"

-"Dilettante"

-"Black Rainbow"

-"Cruel"

-"Surgeon"

-"Champagne Year"

-"Neutered Fruit"

-"Year of the Tiger"

-"She's Beyond Good and Evil"

-"Krokodil"

Encore

-"Your Lips Are Red"

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