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Glam St. Vincent plays explosive art rock at The Depot

Published March 29, 2014 1:29 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

St. Vincent is a rock star.

The singer took the stage at the The Depot in force Friday, playing an explosive nearly 90-minute set that was a compelling brew of avant-garde and catchy rock.

On her new self-titled album St. Vincent turns down the doe-eyed indie singer look for a more glam, futuristic presence with cover art that has her staring the viewer down from a throne.

That imagery carried over onto the stage Friday, where a square white dais served as a couch for languid repose as she crooned, "I prefer your love to Jesus," then became a platform as she climbed on top, statuesque, to oversee the crowd.

St. Vincent, born Annie Clark, wore her previously chestnut hair in a huge, silvery-white shock of curls with blue eye shadow, stopping the music only a few times to have a conversation with the audience that was like a little series of Edward Gorey poems.

"Salt Lake City … I think we have something in common," she said. "Once, when you were a kid, you made a pair of wings out of garbage can lids you really hoped would fly, and you were so disappointed when that didn't work out. But you never gave up hope."

She played a large part of the new album, which comes after a collaboration with David Byrne — an effort the duo played Red Butte Garden to support last summer.

For me, the new stand-outs from her fourth album included the slower, sad "Prince Johnny," the horn-heavy "Digital Witness" and the layered "Rattlesnake," a tune that opened the show.

Set to a bouncy, catchy beat, "Rattlesnake" features lyrics like "I see the snake holes dotted in the sand/As if Seurat painted the Rio Grande." The repetition of words like "sweating," and "running," seem to spiral around you like, well, a snake. I dare you not to dance.

She didn't forget favorites like "Surgeon" and "Cheerleader." And while a kinetic, almost frantic energy was the show's main signature, the quiet moments in a stripped-down version of "Strange Mercy," reminded you of her how haunting and lyrical she can be.