St. Vincent Packs Paramount Studios’ Backlot for ‘Masseduction’ Preview

Los Angeles finds itself teeming with even more sonic sweetness than usual during October, with the Red Bull Music Academy Festival making its way to the entertainment Mecca for the first time. The landmark event, which started in New York in 2014, features a month-long medley of intimate performances across L.A. from Oct. 6-28. RMA’s first L.A. foray got off to a roaring start during its inaugural weekend, with a career-spanning performance from St. Vincent at Paramount Studios’ New York Street Backlot sending even her most die-hard fans home with contentment in their hearts and smiles on their faces.

Celebrated multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark’s rock project has been steadily trending higher on the zeitgeist for a decade, a climb that has gained significant momentum thanks to her fifth studio album, “Masseduction,” due out Oct. 15. The two St. Vincent singles Clark has released ahead of the album, “Los Ageless” and “New York” have already ensnared most of the St. Vincent faithful as well as myriad new ears, with everyone waiting for the latest 12-track effort with baited breath. Fans at her RMA performance were not only treated to a live rendition of the upcoming record in its entirety, but also took in a comprehensive set featuring some of St. Vincent’s biggest hits and career cornerstones. It all made for a remarkable evening, with one of music’s modern greats showing exactly why she’s more than worthy of the distinction.

Split into two sets, the first part of the night saw Clark sift through her impressive catalogue, finding hits that defined different parts of her sonic evolution. No fancy props adorned the stage this evening; Clark didn’t even have any kind of live accompaniment. It was all Clark, and it was all the crowd could have wanted. “Marry Me” opened things up on a note of marked familiarity, before the wonderfully warbly arrangement that is “Now Now” sent folks into a frenzy. An unmistakable swell of strings led into “Strangers,” the opening cut for Clark’s sophomore album, “Actor,” before moving to the fuzz-laiden “Actor Out of Work.” The rest of the set followed that same trend, with Clark peppering in standout cuts from her first four albums for a set that neared an hour before she finished things off with the high energy of “Birth in Reverse.”

A quick costume change later and St. Vincent re-emerged, this time for a multi-media performance of her entire new album a full six days before its release. Although most tracks were firsts for the fans that packed the backlot, most seemed to hit the mark. “New York” and “Los Ageless” got especially welcoming reactions, though, considering fans have already spent a good deal of time with those cuts. Images and videos played on a screen behind Clark as a visual compliment to the spectacle of sound St. Vincent shared with the RMA attendees. She wrapped things up with “Smoking Section,” a finale that underscored an unforgettable night of prolific music.

St. Vincent’s RMA showcase hit one thing home: Annie Clark’s contributions to music over the last decade won’t be forgotten very easily. She manages to deliver a live performance that ripples with the same energy that courses through her recorded material, all with the poise and flourish of a seasoned performer. Hearing “Masseduction” early was an exciting moment, but getting to hear Clark’s full repertoire really made this a home run of an evening.

St. Vincent played Paramount Studios’ New York Street Backlot Oct. 7 as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival.