St. Vincent @ First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia

Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, has spent time as members of both The Polyphonic Spree and of Sufjan Steven‘s band, so it should come as no surprise that she not only has an amazingly beautiful voice, but she is also incredibly gifted in songwriting, and playing a slew of instruments; on her debut record Marry Me, Clark played more than a dozen instruments creating a beautifully lush wall of sound with oft forgotten instruments such as the vibraphone, clavieta, dulcimer and triangle, in addition to an array or horns and strings.

Wednesday night, I made my way into Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church to see the multi-talented Clark, and walked in as the opener Pattern Is Movement was about halfway through their set. Two bearded men graced the stage, one at a drum kit, the other seated in front of a keyboard and microphone. As I made my way through the crowd, I was forced to stop dead in my tracks and give 100% of my attention to the stage. It’s still hard for me to describe what I heard during that set; it was unlike anything else I’d heard and bordered on strange, but in the best possible way. Pattern Is Movement, a local Philly band, is comprised of Andrew Thiboldeaux, whose tenor vocals are almost over-the-top theatrical, and Chris Ward, who just wails on the drums. The duo know how to work a crowd and playing like the world is ending.

Next up was the California-based Foreign Born. I loved everything they did. I danced around in between taking pictures and just fell in love with these guys. Mostly I was focused on my [friend’s] camera and trying to get a decent shot (any Philly photogs wanna be part of the PopWreck(oning) team!? deets), but these guys were amazing and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna go buy every record they’ve ever made, which is just last year’s On The Wing and an EP. But still.

The church was packed by the time the whole of St. Vincent (Clark and three gents) took the stage and the crowd went CRAzy, with a capital CRA. Clark stepped up to her microphones (she had two) with her guitar and a slightly nervous look on her face as her keyboarder, drummer and barefoot violinist took their places. Though her movements were spastic, nothing but untainted beauty poured from Clark’s lips and fingers. Everything was planned and precise, down to the backing vocals Clark recorded herself. Her band mates were almost as talented as Clark herself, switching back and forth between the amalgamation of instruments that cluttered the stage.

The extraordinary sound that emanated from the stage inspired strong desires within the audience as couples were on top of each other throughout the set; most notably, two very intoxicated females who were smack front and center could not keep their hands off of each other. The reaction of her audience noticeably amused Clark, as she smirked and averted her eyes each time she looked down in front her. Clark’s soft and beautiful voice, which transitioned seamlessly into angry and loud when called for, held the audience captive so much so that when she returned to the stage for her encore, nothing but her voice and the soft clicks of camera shutters could be heard.

St. Vincent is a must see. Catch her at this year’s Coachella Festival in Indio, Ca.

more photos @ flickr

St. Vincent: website | myspace
Foreign Born:myspace | blog
Pattern Is Movement:website | myspace

[where: 2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103]

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