I'm optimistic heading to O2 Academy Brixton. Clark’s back catalogue boasts rich and diverse material which could easily fill a two hour set without feeling sluggish. There is no support act for this, instead the audience is shown a painstakingly average short film directed by St. Vincent herself about someone dying at a children’s birthday party. “Basically before you watch ME here’s this thing I made” (not an actual quote). In the not so distant future, Annie Clark will be directing an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s much loved Picture of Dorian Gray the visuals and filmmaking here set expectations for this very low.
St Vincent’s Fear the Future tour marks her attempt and transitioning from alternative indie curiosity to quirky art-pop star. The first step in this was the removal of any kind of tour band. She places out her St. Vincent in the kind of way you’d expect from a Beatles Tribute Band would playing select ‘hits’ from each phase of her career.
Opening with the mellow chamber pop tittle track from her debut LP Marry Me, which could have worked a lot better towards the back end of the set. As she plays each song the curtain reveals more of the stage set creating a stark sense of anticipation for the reveal. However when it finally comes it’s just a drawing of, you guessed it St. Vincent, herself, in an attempt to make a comment on narcissism. At £30 a ticket, though, cheap gimmicks like this seem to feel more like homages to vanity, rather than any kind of astute comment.
Going through the set, she somehow manages to make the most exciting cuts from her discography dull and lifeless, with minimal crowd interaction and stage movement. The short five minute interval was accompanied by another picture of St Vincent and some slightly pleasant ambient music. It was probably the most enjoyable moment the show had to offer.
By the time the second half came around every potential set closing track had already been minimalistically butchered. The final 40 minutes or so is wholly dedicated to MASSEDUCTION. Videos of Clarke are the new background as she trolls through the lacklustre material, statically perched in the middle of the stage. To say the end was a relief would be an understatement. The new St Vincent, this alternative pop star reinvention, snubs an encore, probably knowing that your feet need a rest and your lungs need some fresh air.
"Lazy, pseudo-intellectual garbage", I say. St. Vincent tries to pull off this persona as a little bit of social commentary on fame and vanity, but there’s a difference between being satirical and standing over road kill and laughing at it.
(Words: Aimee Armstrong)