St. Vincent: Queen of Indie Rock

Studio 360

I first heard St. Vincent's sweet, innocent sound in 2008, when she paid a visit to the short-lived NPR show The Bryant Park Project. At that intimate session, I was immediately struck by her soaring, surprising melodies and intricate finger-picking. This was obviously just the beginning for the classically trained songstress. Since then, her sound has matured into something edgier, angstier, punctuated by intricate, syncopated guitar riffs.

St Vincent is the nom de guerre of indie rock darling Annie Clark. Since her 2007 debut Marry Me, Clark has used the name in tribute to Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in Greenwich Village, where the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died. "It's the place where poetry comes to die," she's explained. "I like things that are unsettling or a little bit creepy."

Last night, New York City's famed Webster Hall played host to the second-to-last stop on St. Vincent's sold-out North American tour. Her 80-minute set was dominated by songs off her critically acclaimed new record Strange Mercy (which debuted at #18 on the Billboard 200 --- no small feat for an indie act). During one of her ramblings between songs, I overheard someone behind me say, "she's such a dork." I chuckled and realized they're right. That's probably what makes her live show so surprising and mysterious: how can such a supreme nerd shred on the guitar like that?

The show streamed live on MTV Hive and will be archived there if you can't catch her on tour. She plays one last show stateside tonight in Boston before traveling on to the UK.

Slideshow: St. Vincent at Webster Hall

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