In the heart of industrialized Nashville, St. Vincent offered a bit of a throwback when her Daddy’s Home Tour came to Ascend Amphitheater on Saturday.
During her career, St. Vincent (Annie Clark) has been able to reinvent not only her sound as an artist but as a character, emerging with a new persona with the release of each record. The last few times that Music City saw St. Vincent, she manifested some of those different characters.
In support of her Digital Witness album in 2014, her performance mirrored the futuristic theme of that album, as she dressed in a black gown and was very robotic with her movements. Three years later, following the release of her Masseduction record, St. Vincent completely controlled the stage as she came out in red skintight leather, performing completely solo with a slew of mixed-in backing vocals and instrumentals.
In May, the singer/guitarist released her latest album, Daddy’s Home, incorporating a 1970s funk-rock sound. So naturally, this time around, Nashville saw St. Vincent grace the stage Saturday dressed in vintage-era clothing that included a red leather jacket and gogo boots to complete the nostalgic look.
Before St. Vincent performed, a throwback theme was already occurring at Ascend Amphitheater, as comedian Aly Macofsky opened the night. While several headliners have used comedy acts, Macofsky’s performance felt more intentional to align with that nostalgic feeling, back to when it was more common for comedians to open for singers. Early into her 30-minute set, Macofsky had an early warning for fans on hand, “Buckle up, Nashville.” During her performance, the Los Angeles-based comedian touched on various topics, including acne, her need for attention, and past sexual experiences.
During the middle of her set and hitting on several adult topics, she noticed a young kid in the crowd named Cash. Macofsky’s interactions with the child and their parents became an unexpected, hilarious moment of the performance. “You’re going to learn a lot,” she told Cash while laughing. “Are you [Cash’s parents] hating me right now?… It’s going to be a long car ride home.”
Twenty minutes later, it was time for the headliner to take over. After her backup singers took their spots, a revolving platform in the middle of the stage swung around as St. Vincent made her appearance to thunderous applause. The majority of St. Vincent’s performance centered around her latest album with a funky sound. That carried itself over into her earlier tracks as well. To start the night, St. Vincent delved right into her song “Digital Witness,” and the backing instrumentals featured a 70s infused style to them, which made for a different, but enjoyable rendition of the tune.
Early into St. Vincent’s set, it was her backup singers that shined, including on “…At the Holiday Party.” While those three singers garnered attention, they didn’t take away the spotlight from the headliner. If anything, they went on to highlight St. Vincent’s musical prowess. At times, it felt like the audience was being treated to a pop showcase with a rock and roll sound. Most notably came during “Sugarboy,” when the backup singers had become dancers, walking the stage with lights as they danced while the singer belted out the track. There were other moments, particularly later in her set, where St. Vincent took total control, bringing the theater to the stage. With an ample amount of emotion, she turned several of her tunes into pieces of artwork.
The early stages of “Pay Your Way In Pain” allowed for the backup singers to shine. It was St. Vincent who dominated the second half of the track with her guitar goddess techniques, as she shredded and captivated the audience with her performance. A song later, she continued to showcase her skills with “My Baby Wants a Baby.” The early part of the song featured a vulnerable St. Vincent as she sang solo. The latter portion featured more emotion and passion from the singer as she grabbed a guitar, quickly performing a solo, before tossing it aside to the ground and carrying on with the vocal portion of the tune.
St. Vincent closed out the performance with a three-song encore, including the final track, “Melting of The Sun.” As the song faded out, she and her backup dancers made their way to the revolving platform, exiting the stage before the lights turned black. They did return moments later to take a bow with the instrumentalists before waving goodbye to the Music City crowd. “I would like to propose a toast to all of us getting back together tonight in Nashville,” St. Vincent said. “It’s been too Goddamn long.”
The Daddy’s Home Tour continues through October. The remaining list of dates can be seen here.