Published on June 25th, 2014 | by Brendan Flaherty


Concert Review: Saskatoon – St. Vincent

St. Vincent plies her musical wares at an intense, worthwhile show at The Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazzfest to an audience that should have been much bigger.

Today, everybody has been asking me if I’m going to the sold out Lauryn Hill concert at the Sask Jazz Festival. I have been responding truthfully, in the negative. It’s not because I don’t appreciate Ms. Hill or her music, but rather because I tend to avoid nostalgia acts when going to concerts. Before anybody starts decrying me for ignoring the ‘legends’ and ‘true musicians’ in favour of some sort of perceived hipster cachet, I would like to set the record straight. I went to The Jazz Festival just the other night, to the not sold out St. Vincent show. It was pretty terrific, and too few people were at it.

Instead, everybody in Saskatoon was watching another nostalgia act — Adam Lambert fronting Queen. People would always rather see a hologram of a long-dead hitmaker than experience something even marginally more relevant and, dare I say, useful. It’s grilled cheese sandwiches over kale smoothies, and I get that.  I love grilled cheese. That analogy breaks down, however, if you apply mathematics and realize that the grilled cheese costs many times more than the smoothie and you’re probably just looking at a picture of the thing from the nosebleeds anyway.

So, as I was saying: St. Vincent. Annie Clark and her very talented band twitched, soloed, and freaked out through a relatively banter-free 75 minutes of songs that leaned heavily on the recent self-titled breakthrough album. It was altogether a pretty vibrant and intense set, with stunning drum fills, guitar tones at turns fuzzed out and sparkling, and off-kilter synth samples that helped bring about a sense of oddity and play — so, pretty much exactly what the albums sound like.

Annie Clark’s breathtaking singing talents weren’t lost on the crowd, either. Though her poetic lyrics were sometimes lost a bit deep into the mix, enthusiastic fans sang along reverently. There were a fair amount of cell phones (and even the odd iPad) popping up to snap a chat or insta a gram, but the set’s opening disclaimer asking to refrain from “digital capture” seemed to stymie the normal amount of social networking going on.

By the end, after a radical Jimi-at-Monterey-esque meltdown that had Clark writhing on the edge of the stage after straddling a befuddled security guard, fans left elated and satisfied. Though most regular Jazz Fest attendees couldn’t be bothered to show up to one of the most unique and interesting events of the entire festival, those who did came away pretty impressed.

Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll scoff at the 20th Anniversary tour.

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is a writer, obsessive, loudmouth, and spoken word poet. You probably have mutual Facebook friends with him. He expects you to tip well. He was so much better before he went electric.

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