Photographs of St. Vincent and David Byrne at The Orpheum


Photograph of David Bryne and St. Vincent by Julie Logan

Mixed in between grungy and disgruntled homeless people on Market St. last night, St. Vincent and David Bryne played to a rapt crowd at the Orpheum Theatre. As a plush theatre intended for musicals and plays rather than concerts, the venue was a huge hindrance. Adoring fans so energized by the show had to take to the aisles or dance between chairs with the short awkward movements of David Bryne. I can just imagine the delighted chaos that would have ensued at a venue like the Fillmore or The Independent.

Going into this as a big fan of St. Vincent, a staple of my vinyl collection, I was very surprised and disappointed to find the live show confused itself with a performance art exhibit. I appreciate what they were attempting with staging, moving the instrumental band members around in various choreographed dances with modern styling. Unfortunately, the effort proved more distracting than engaging: they are musicians, not modern dancers.

Thankfully Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, is a stunning performer. Every jerk was infused with purpose, drawing me in. Sadly, even her charisma couldn’t keep me from the distracting rotation of the musicians around her.

David Bryne has a commanding voice, but also an incredibly uncomfortable stage presence. He jerked and swayed with muscles held tightly in, completely wrapped up in the music. Juxtaposed with just Annie and it would have been a beautiful balance of on-stage personalities. With the addition of the dancing musicians, David was lost.

Personally, my admiration for performance artists does not extend far enough to encompass another live St. Vincent show. Thank goodness for the unfettered imagination of vinyl.