St. Vincent, March 2014

What can be said about Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, that hasn’t already been said?

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Well, nobody’s ever sincerely called her bad. And there’s a reason for that: since Clark’s trail-blazing 2007 debut, Marry Me, the Berklee-educated songwriter has done nothing but work, win over critics, and sell out shows.

Along with her credibility, Annie Clark’s songwriting skills have only grown. Her previous album, Strange Mercy, was her best work yet — and a 2011 standout. Improving on that release seemed like an impossible feat, even for someone as talented as St. Vincent.

Let’s say that Clark’s time working with David Byrne was well spent. At House of Blues San Diego last night, she put on a positively electric performance and demonstrated her own 21st-century vision of Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense.

Clark kicked off her set with a deep, eardrum-shattering bass note followed by a message to the masses: a disembodied computer voice requested that audience members “maximize enjoyment of this evening’s entertainment” by refraining from digitally witnessing the experience. It’s a testament to Clark’s place in the music community — and the strength of the spectacle — that a lot of people complied.

Clark’s work is artistic and headstrong, and it can be hard to comprehend. And she’s also only gotten more adventurous as she’s grown as a songwriter. Layers of sound, vocal acrobatics, and more can make for a tough act to pull off. Fortunately, her professional band, excellent stage (and costume?) design, and her own genius made the show seem effortless, maximizing enjoyment for all in attendance.

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