What a double-bill! Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is a gift of soaring, expressive vocals mixed with jaw-dropping guitar shredding. Shearwarter is Jonathan Meiburg’s art-rock tapestry of swelling emotion and catharsis. Together in one night? To say I’d been anxiously looking forward to this show is an understatement.
Meiburg, sometimes linked to Okkervil River (a band that needs to swing through Indy pronto), has built Shearwater into dynamic mixture of musical adventurousness and gorgeous melodrama. Past albums like Winged Life and Rook were beautiful soundscapes best absorbed in complete listens. Newest album Animal Joy is their most accessible; songs removed from context stand firmly on their own. The band’s set Thursday night focused primarily on that record.
After opening with Rook’s majestic The Snow Leopard, the band jumped into the back-to-back intensity of Animal Life and Dread Sovereign from Joy. Shearwater excel at creating a powerful dreamlike atmosphere with their songs, sucking you in to the music without sacrificing complexity. Heady stuff, but incredibly engaging. You As You Were, also off Joy, was next and my favorite track in the set. By the time they closed with the powerful Breaking the Yearlings and Palo Santo‘s White Waves, I was equally elated and impressed. Meiburg mentioned it was the band’s first appearance in Indy — let’s hope they come back soon.
St Vincent hit the stage next, and from the opening notes of Actor‘s Marrow, she had the sold out crowd enthralled. Strange Mercy‘s Cheerleader was next, followed by an angry and exhausting (in a good way) Chloe in the Afternoon.
It’s a difficult task to pull off sexy and demure in equal measure but Clark may as well file a patent. Best example of the night: An intense version of Dilettante. Let’s see Daughtry (wink) manage that.
Other highlights of the set included a bouncy Cruel, an intense version of Northern Lights, a fierce cover of Pop Group’s She Is Beyond Good and Evil, and encore Your Lips Are Red. Through it all, Clark shredded her guitar like an indie goddess Yngwie Malmsteen. Crazy, crazy good show.
Were you there? What did you think?