Friday, February 22, 2008

Ashes in Downtown

Ever since I missed the opportunity to see Annie Clark (St. Vincent) with her full band at Sasquatch last year, I've been kicking myself. When I caught St. Vincent at the Echo in August, Annie's sweet sweet voice cast a spell on me. So, I wasn't going to miss another chance to see them, which came on Friday, February 15th at the Echoplex. This time around, though, I had the luxury of also being able to hit the Santa Barbara show on Saturday night.

Friday's show was at the newly-remodeled Echoplex. (The show was originally scheduled for the Echo, but later moved downstairs to the roomier Echoplex.) I had been to the Echoplex for a Dub Club last June, but I haven't made it back since. Therefore, I did not realize that the entrance is not on Sunset Boulevard, as it had been in the past. It was on Glendale Boulevard. I parked in the lot behind the Echo and practically ran to the door, where I was told I was in the wrong place. After a lengthy 7-minute walk (I'm from Los Angeles; we don't walk, and we especially don't walk in Echo Park down underpasses at 11p.m.), I finally made it to the spot. I was already late, and this made me later. I arrived just as the first song "Now Now" was in progress.

The place was not completely packed, but it was full, making it almost impossible for someone of my short stature to see the stage, which was decorated with these colorful wooden structures. Annie's face was projected on a screen behind the stage. It was a lovely set up. Annie wore this bejeweled black dress, and the fellas wore slacks and suspenders. Squaregirl Marion and I initially tried to push through the crowd to the front, but we eventually settled for a bench that we could stand on, where we were able to watch the rest of the show. Though this was the first show of the tour, it felt like the band had been playing these songs for years. Such intricate, complicated songs were executed flawlessly. I was impressed, and the crowd was thrilled with the show.

The Santa Barbara show was at Velvet Jones. This was my first and last trip there. The venue was cozy and intimate, and I could actually see the stage. Unfortunately, it was also overrun with local drunks who were only there to get wasted, talk loudly, and make out with each other. In spite of these circumstances, the band was once again flawless. I watched the show from upstairs, where I had full view of the stage. the band is so cohesive, and they appear to have been playing together forever.

Most of the songs played were from last year's "Marry Me", but several of the songs were reworked with beautiful results. Also, there were a two new songs added to the set. The highlights: "Marry Me", which began with each member of the band ringing these little colored bells, and my favorite "Your Lips Are Red", which I think had a new violin part during the break towards the end of the song. Also, an oboe has been added, which makes "Jesus Saves, I Spend" so much fuller.

St. Vincent is now on tour with Foreign Born through March 1st. Next stops are the PLUG Awards, and then Coachella. St. Vincent plays Saturday, April 26th, along with M.I.A., Death Cab, Man Man, Cold War Kids, MGMT, Animal Collective, Kate Nash, and headliners Portishead. And back again this year: the ever popular $8 Heinekens!

~Squaregirl Rachel

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