The 7th annual Austin Originals Benefit Concert brings together community leaders and supporters of Austin Child Guidance Center (ACGC). Each year, the Phyllis Richards Austin Icon for Children Award is presented to two outstanding individuals. The evening features the Austin Originals Tasting Grove (a reception area with food bites from local Austin favorites), live and silent auctions, and live music from Bob Schneider, Casey McPherson, Nakia, and James Junius. This year’s emcee is Terry Lickona. All funds raised benefit under-served children and family services with Austin Child Guidance Center, Austin’s oldest nonprofit dedicated to children’s mental health.
All photos: Andrea Dane
Music journalists appreciate artists who consistently challenge themselves to create something that defies norms which is one reason St. Vincent, nee Annie Clark has ingratiated herself to rock critics who have frankly, been starved for innovative music from acts that intellectually stimulates the listener beyond interesting aural textures. That may sound a bit heady but St. Vincent’s performances tend to have an elevating effect on music fans of all stripes. Her work speaks for itself in its originality. It’s exceptional art. This is an artist who considers all aspect of performance carefully and the results show. Thursday’s night one of a two-night stand at ACL Live highlighted those qualities in Clark’s work and then some.
Already accepted as a guitar goddess, St. Vincent set out with her latest release, to conquer the pop world with a concept that feels genuine and real in its presentation which is hard to do in that context. Her stage production shared a similar monochrome aesthetic to Solange’s recent tour yet, she pulled it off with more style and flair than anyone else. And she did it as a solo act, without benefit of a backing band behind her to lend more variety into the show. It was stunning how well she managed the feat, opening with a brilliantly simple black curtain that was open a crack, spotlights on the performer, then progressively opened as Clark worked her way from left to right, arranging the setlist into two parts. The first set was comprised of select cuts from her discography in chronological order, underlining the visual effect of moving laterally across the stage with each new song, moving both figuratively and literally across the timeline of her career.
The context of the show, futuristic pop-rock demanded a room with the sound quality of ACL Live. St. Vincent maxed out that potential kicking off the set with “Marry Me,” the title track off her 2007 debut. The ballad highlighted Clark’s vocal range and provided a soft launch pad for an exquisite, two-hour art-rock masterpiece. Cheers of recognition came with “Cheerleader”, then “Strange Mercy.” The latter track being the piece that grabbed our attention at St. Vincent’s NPR Showcase performance at SXSW several years ago. It was as this point in the performance, the plain black curtain was completely pulled back to reveal a gigantic, multi-colored mural of a stylized representation of a woman’s face as if the artist had been commanded to create in 8-bit graphics It was apparent Clark is a force. The “Masseduction Tour” underlined that point in heavy black marker.
Not one to banter with her audiences much, Clark waited until completing the fourth song in her set before acknowledging the crowd, “There’s no place I’d rather be than right here in Texas!” reminding fans her roots are in the state, hailing from Dallas. The singer was once of member of orchestral rock collective, The Polyphonic Spree before setting out on her own trailblazing path. As the first set ended and St. Vincent left the stage for a a brief change-over and costume change, we had time to consider the fact that all the older songs got a “pop treatment” for this tour, rendering them anew and relevant to the material presented on Masseduction which was played from start to finish second set. Yet another brilliant element of the production.
Later in show, Clark made a humorous and half-hearted attempt at improvising a little song about Austin, invoking Barton Springs Pool among other notable spots in town. The moment felt authentic, unplanned and frankly it was just plain cute how she interacted with the audience. It is clear Austin holds a special place in St. Vincent’s heart. The feeling is mutual. Clark indeed holds a special place in the hearts of Austin music fans as evidenced by the posts on social media leading into, during and after the astounding solo performance St. Vincent turned in. Keeping an audience interested for 120 minutes is no easy feat with a full band, but Clark handled the task alone with artful grace, gently, then more forcefully pulling music fans along on a carefully composed art-rock odyssey.
St. Vincent left the audience with “Smoking Section” deliberately forgoing an encore for a polished finish. We left the theater satiated, mouth agape at the singular talent that is St. Vincent, realizing her album title had achieved its aim in seducing not only us, but an entire theatre of music fans. There were plenty of folks at the Moody Thursday who’d never seen St. Vincent perform before. We guarantee they’re rabid fans now. Add pop goddess to St. Vincent’s resume.
II Divo, the world’s first and still the best classical crossover group is coming to ACL Live and we have a pair of tickets to giveaway!
They have been all over the world. Highlights include appearing at the opening and closing ceremony of the 2006 Fifa World Cup, touring as special guests to Barbra Streisand, a 2009 performance at President Obama’s Purple Inauguration Ball and recently at a special concert for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee at Windsor Castle. So having them in Austin is such a special opportunity.
This group is the brainchild of Simon Cowell and have gone on to sell over 26 million records worldwide.
To enter to win a pair of tickets like & share this post. Winner will be chosen at random using random.org on May 1st.
When: May 15th
Doors: 6:30 p.m.
Show: 8:00 p.m.
310 Willie Nelson Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78701
Wine Down Wednesday at ACL Live is back! This weekly free event is your chance to take a mid-week break, head downtown and have some wine, snacks and enjoy some live music.
Each week offers a new band and different fare. Tonight’s music will be provided by Emily Bell and food will be served by Pelons Tex Mex.
They also will be giving away free merchandise from local businesses around the 2nd Street district every Wednesday!
In other music news, mark your calendars for May 7th, 12:01 am as that is when the Austin City Limits line-up will be announced!
- April 24th Emily Bell with bites from Pelóns Tex Mex
- May 1st Suite 709 with bites from Bonneville
- May 8th Whiskey Shivers with bites from Trace
- May 15th Jitterbug Vipers with bites from Coal Vines
- May 22nd The Boxing Lesson with bites from Crú
- May 29th Dana Falconberry with bites from Frank
- June 6th Ruby Jane with bites from La Condesa
When: Every Wednesday
Time: 5:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.
ACL Live Front Porch
310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78701
The long awaited unveiling of the Willie Nelson statue is finally happening this afternoon! This gift to the City of Austin will be displayed appropriately along Willie Nelson Boulevard at Lavaca, making sure Willie will always be hanging out in downtown Austin, guitar in hand.
The unveiling ceremony is free and open to the public. The eight-foot tall, bronze statue of the country legend was done by acclaimed Philadelphia artist Clete Shields and shows the always relaxed Willie resting on a stool with an elbow propped up on top of his guitar. Willie himself will be at the ceremony, which, not coincidentally, just so happens to be on 4/20. Our Mayor Lee Leffingwell will accept the gift on behalf of the city. He’s a Willie fan (who isn’t?), and he championed the honorary re-naming of a portion of 2nd Street to Willie Nelson Boulevard.
There will be street closures in the area to accommodate the crowds, so plan for them on your drive home today.
When: Today, April 20th
Time: 4 p.m.
Willie Nelson Boulevard & Lavaca
Austin, Texas 78701