Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interlude: Actor Out of Work

Scanning the riotous "Going Out of Business" signs, I found myself remembering.

It was just a few years ago when another behemoth closed, ten blocks downtown. I'm unconvinced that these were both illegal download-related fatalities. Real estate and economics played a role, surely, but so did mismanagement and greed. The Times Square Virgin Megastore, and its more familiar, Union Square cousin, are (were) highly profitable and always have (had) costumers. The story here isn't slumping sales, but rent. Vornado Realty Trust purchased the entire Virgin Megastore chain, and as owners of the two actual properties in New York, the company wants to get a tenant who will pay more.

I know times are tough and the bottom line is important, but what about cultural value? Virgin was, for all its corporate branding and big box disadvantages, a vivacious, socially vital institution. And nothing exemplified that more than in-stores.

Annie Clark, the petite maelstrom at the center of St Vincent, was a brave choice for the "last days," as she cheekily deemed them. Emotionally jittery, restless and evocative, Clark is a far cry from any norm, indie rock or otherwise. Laughing with a mouth of blood, as one of her songs go, needn't be a depressive state. While the subjects are gloomy, the music is cathartic and cataclysmic, with guitar-driven blasts and operatic vocals, at once regal and earthy. Alas, no old songs, but the new cuts off of Actor were much in the same vein, complete with horns, strings and fuzzy, violent guitar.

St Vincent plays Webster Hall on Wednesday, May 20th.

MP3: St Vincent - Actor Out of Work
MySpace: St Vincent
Official Site: St Vincent

More photos at brooklynvegan.

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