St. Vincent is the first artist I ever wrote about for another website. In fact, I had already seen the artist also known as Annie Clark 10 times before she premiered her “Fear the Future” tour in the New York City backlot at Paramount Pictures as part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival Los Angeles. Seasoned pro for all things St. Vincent, right? Wrong, because it wasn’t enough. I was not prepared for that performance.

Half an hour after the claimed start time of 8:30 p.m., fans grew anxious as the likes of fun. and John Mayer blared through the speakers. By 9:10 p.m., my crew and I agreed that hell is a St. Vincent concert that never starts. Fortunately, we had not fallen into eternal damnation, and Clark soon appeared at the left edge of the stage, stepping from the privacy of the curtain like a long-lost legend of the silver screen come to life.

Koury Angelo / Red Bull Content Pool

Clad like a superhero in a pink patent leather leotard and thigh-high boots, Clark sounded downright old-school regal in the spotlight as she sang the title track from her debut album “Marry Me” backed by piano and a swell of strings we assumed would soon be revealed when the curtain fully opened. This did not happen, however, when a stagehand brought Clark her axe for “Now Now,” a surprise rarity that generated audibly enthused responses such as “Oh my God! What? What the f—?”

The aforementioned piano, strings and any other instrumentation came not from a band of musicians but rather lush backing tracks. Some will inevitably lament the absence of a backing band and the energy and sound one brings to each show, or call shenanigans over the breaking of rockist tradition. So then, why perform on such a massive stage completely solo? Because Clark isn’t just a star. Her presence is the kind that commands the full attention of everyone in the room, and always has been. Anything else is a distraction, really.

Maria Jose Govea / Red Bull Content Pool

Clark’s chronological run of songs sound found her lying in front of a backdrop featuring the fanged visage of a cartoon monster. St. Vincent’s fifth dimensional form? Perhaps. The minimalist visuals made frenetic performances of “Rattlesnake” and “Birth in Reverse” all the more urgent as Clark pulled seemingly impossible sounds from her signature guitar.

Fans largely went into the studio backlot expecting a first-look at some tracks from the upcoming fifth album MASSEDUCTION mixed with some older favorites, but Clark instead split the performance into a set of ten tracks from previous records followed by the entire new album from beginning to end. Will the rest of the tour follow suit? That remains to be seen, but getting to experience the album together for the first time made the evening feel all the more special.

Koury Angelo / Red Bull Content Pool

Following a brief intermission, Clark resurfaced onstage for the MASSEDUCTION portion of the evening in a retro-futuristic silver dress with detached turquoise sleeves and backed by a screen flashing accompanying videos shot with the same delightfully garish color palate we’ve sen in everything from the promotional videos to the album cover. As the New York City windows pulsated hues of pink and blue, vibrant visuals of the likes of phone cakes, shredded orange paper and space in hyperdrive flashed across the screen to paint an absurd, but eerie vibe.

Although an album from someone like St. Vincent necessitates multiple listens to properly digest, MASSEDUCTION revealed itself to be enough of a smash hit to inspire love at first sound. Of those new songs, “Pills” (featuring backing vocals from Cara Delevingne) and “Sugarboy” proved instant crowd-pleasing bangers that got the audience grooving right away, as did funky title track “Masseduction.” Midway through single “Los Ageless,” the chorus had already become a thrilling singalong. Somber closer “Smoking Section” inspired a pin-drop kind of silent, jaw-dropped awe as Clark seized everyone in the feels with her lowest register.

Koury Angelo / Red Bull Content Pool

When fans refer to Clark as a higher being or with terms of endearment such as “The Almighty,” they aren’t far off. Everything from the choice of such a non-traditional venue to the utilization of an artificial New York reflected an escalation of St. Vincent’s penchant for creating her own reality. After all, this is an artist that plays her own Ernie Ball guitar, and seemingly a different-colored one for every song that necessitated its use.

Everything about the Paramount Pictures performance from the daring reinventions of old favorites to the use of gripping uncanny imagery served as a testament to Clark’s boldest ambition to date and status as an artist like no other. The themes and motifs behind MASSEDUCTION and the stage show are such that will surely be analyzed through critical, cultural and sociological lenses for decades to come. Clark commanded the stage alone like the best rapper or pop star, but she’s neither. She shred our faces with her wicked guitar chops like a rock god, but she’s not that either. St. Vincent is something different and new.

​Maria Jose Govea / Red Bull Content Pool

Clearly this is the the point where all the stars have aligned for St. Vincent’s major mainstream breakthrough. The question that remains, however, is whether or not the masses are ready and worthy.

Catch St. Vincent on tour this fall/winter at the following dates:

10/17 – London, UK – O2 Academy Brixton
10/18 – Manchester, UK – O2 Apollo Manchester
10/20 – Dublin, Ireland – Olympia Theatre
10/23 – Brussels, Belgium – Ancienne Belgique
10/24 – Paris, France – Le Trianon
10/26 – Berlin, Germany – Huxleys
10/27 – Utrecht, Netherlands – TivoliVrendenburg
11/14 – Detroit, MI – The Fillmore
11/15 – Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room
11/17 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theater
11/18 – St. Paul, MN – Palace Theater
11/19 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
11/20 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
11/21 – Louisville, KY – The Kentucky Center
11/22 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
11/24 – Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Theatre
11/25 – Durham, NC – Durham Performing Arts Center
11/27 – Washington, DC – The Anthem
11/28 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
11/30 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
12/1 – Portland, ME – State Theatre
12/2 – Brooklyn, NY – Kings Theatre
12/3 – Brooklyn, NY – Kings Theatre
12/16-12/17 – Houston, TX – Day For Night Festival
1/9 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
1/10 – Columbus, OH – Express Live
1/12 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
1/13 – Omaha, NE – Kiewit Concert Hall at Holland Performing Arts Center
1/15 – Denver, CO – Fillmore Auditorium
1/19 – Seattle, WA – The Moore Theatre
1/20 – Portland, OR – Keller Auditorium
1/22 – San Francisco, CA – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
1/25 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium
1/26 – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren
1/27 – San Diego, CA – Observatory

Words by Frank Mojica. Photos by Maria Jose Govea and Koury Angelo / Red Bull Content Pool.