Education is priceless and Professor Clark shows us why First thing’s first: St. Vincent’s new album is called MASSEDUCTION, not Mass Education. But you’d be forgiven if you thought that considering Annie Clark did give a mass education on the ways of performing at a recent Mastercard House #startsomethingpricesless event, presented with Spotify and Absolut.
Speaking of class, let’s start this lesson off with a pop quiz: Which singer/songwriter left Pharrell speechless upon sharing her NYU student project?
The answer: Maggie Rogers.
Just eight days after making the track, Rogers shared her now famous single “Alaska” with the pop star Pharrell, who stated “I’ve got no words for that,” and the rest is history.
Now, that history includes opening for St. Vincent at an NYC event in the Meatpacking District. Who knew that Maggie’s spiritual experience and Pharrell’s religious experience would lead to a “baptism of tears” with St. Vincent? Rogers’ songs are endlessly catchy and have a place all their own at the intersection of folk and dance. It was the perfect appetizer for our main course.
Speaking, of course, let’s dive into class!
Here are seven lessons we learned last night from Annie Clark.
Lesson 1 – Get the names right
Like any good lesson, it may be helpful to start with the vocabulary. So, take note: The song is “Los Ageless,” not Los Angeles. As mentioned, the album is MASSEDUCTION, not Mass Education.
Lesson 2 – Mix it up
St. Vincent was fresh off her Tiny Desk Concert with a solo acoustic guitar and went straight into the Mastercard lounge with a solo pianist. The new arrangement brought a jazz quality and proved Clark to be a musical chameleon. It seems like miles away from Clark’s electric guitar driven performances of the past, or even, her own guitar line or her recent performances of Los Ageless with strobe lights and back up dancers. The vulnerability and the beauty captured by Tiny Desk Concert was here too, but this time, accompanied with neon lights, the scent of truffle cheddar pretzels and chatter. St. Vincent knows that new performances yield new opportunities to change things up and present songs in new ways.
Lesson 3 – Maximize your time
In 24 hours, it was possible to hear tracks of MASSEDUCTION in three different ways: the album version, the Tiny Desk version, and the Mastercard #startsomethingpriceless version.
Lesson 4 – Learn the alphabet, and then some
To St. Vincent, notes are more than just notes. Yells, sounds, and undefinable yet powerful guttural tones all become part of the complex tapestry of her work. Writing words is just one part.
Lesson 5 – Use your body
Everything, including your voice, is an instrument, your body included.
Lesson 6 – The show must go on
While St. Vincent’s powerful voice and her presentation style commands a room, sometimes, even that is no match for millennials at a party. Even with the most emotional tunes, like “Happy Birthday Johnny,” the quieter moments were peppered with chatter. “I want to know what they’re talking about,” Clark quipped during the show, “I think it’s a lot of people talking about Instagram.”
Lesson 7 – Don’t.Ever.Leave.Early
Do not, under any circumstances, depart a concert, no matter how long it may be and no matter how much energy you have left before the final songs. This time, St. Vincent schooled those who departed before the final act by coming into the crowd to sing “New York.” With her arms wrapped around guests, and a encompassing circle of iPhones recording the experience, Annie delivered a one of a kind moment. That is after all, what New York is all about: putting together random strangers in one single location to experience a single priceless moment.