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St. Vincent’s theatrical ‘MASSEDUCTION’ live show hit Kings Theatre (pics, review)

St. Vincent‘s “Fear the Future” tour is less a rock show and more a piece of theater, and Brooklyn’s gorgeous, ornate Kings Theatre was the perfect setting to frame it. Annie Clark commanded the stage, alone on a pedestal with her custom guitar, in front of a screen showing visuals from MASSEDUCTION, many of which she plays a starring role in. The visuals themselves are expertly crafted and art directed to be the natural continuation of MASSEDUCTION. They are a lot pop art, a little surreal, and all portrayed in a vivid palette of colors. Imagery that might read at first glance as sexy is turned on its heels; a pair of long, lithe legs ending in stilettos extends from a television screen, not as a come on but to attack, sinister and sharp as knives.

The only musician on stage all night was Annie Clark, who did most songs with her guitar and a few just singing. (Annie’s Instagram hints that there may have been a string section that was out of sight, but as far as we could tell, most of the music and backup vocals were all pre-recorded.) Annie alone on stage feels subversive – sure, she could’ve had a band with her, as she has in the past, but why distract from the sole woman whose vision this is?

Before she got to MASSEDUCTION, which was performed front-to-back in her second of two sets of the night, the venue screened the short horror film that Annie directed and co-wrote, The Birthday Party. Then after a break, Annie hit the stage for her first set of the evening, which had her performing pre-MASSEDUCTION material chronologically, from her 2007 debut Marry Me through her 2014 self-titled album.

The first set started with the curtain open just a sliver, revealing Annie on stage all the way to the audience’s left side. The curtain would open a bit more for each song, and Annie would reposition herself a few feet to the right for each song. The curtain finally opened all the way for “Cruel,” which was also the song that finally got the crowd on their feet. She moved to the right one last time for “Cheerleader,” before closing the curtain again and hitting the lights.

When the lights came back on, Annie was lying on the floor and now backed by a curtain with a painting of face filled with madness, jaws wide open and fangs exposed. When she finally got to the songs off of the self-titled album, a few stagehands — the only other people on stage besides Annie the entire night — came out to switch her guitars and reposition her mic stand. Even the stagehands’ roles were choreographed to fit the unique St. Vincent live experience. They were in full-body suits with their faces covered, and they moved at the same robotic pace that Annie often does during her performances.

Then after a short intermission, which had the lights off and some instrumental music playing, Annie returned for the MASSEDUCTION pop-art film set. The visuals and Annie’s atypical stage presence were thrilling, and everything sounded great too. Annie’s voice never lacked power, and her inventive guitar playing is such a treat to witness in person. And even though everything felt so meticulously arranged, there were a few times Annie seemingly went off script, like when she did an a cappella verse of “New York” and changed the lyrics to be about Brooklyn. It was the little moments like those that reminded you that behind the superhuman St. Vincent, is the actual human Annie Clark.

The Kings Theatre shows happened on Saturday (12/2) and Sunday (12/3). Pictures of Saturday are in the gallery above and pictures of Sunday are in the gallery below. Setlist (which was the same both nights) and a few videos are also below.

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Setlist
Set 1:
Marry Me
Now, Now
The Strangers
Actor Out of Work
Cruel
Cheerleader
Strange Mercy
Digital Witness
Rattlesnake
Birth in Reverse

Set 2:
Hang on Me
Pills
Masseduction
Sugarboy
Los Ageless
Happy Birthday, Johnny
Savior
New York
Fear the Future
Young Lover
Dancing With a Ghost
Slow Disco
Smoking Section

photos by P Squared and Amanda Hatfield, words by Amanda Hatfield and Andrew Sacher

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