Listen to Austin 360 Radio

St. Vincent, pink risers, a Colorado flag, McLovin combine for defining ACL set

Ramon Ramirez

Lifting off with a suffocating opening line of catalog favorites “Rattlesnake” then “Digital Witness” then “Cruel,” highly coordinated Manhattan rock robot St. Vincent stormed the ACL castle Friday afternoon, hurled prize game on the dining table. Each came with extended, ravenous guitar solos.

“A very special, very warm, warm welcome to the freaks and the others of Austin, Texas,” the artist (real name Annie Clark) said after the breathless trio of tracks.

She had this aside about hot air balloons, bed sheets, and childhood imagination and about how when pretending, “each time, sadly, gravity prevailed.”

It’d have to do stage banter-wise. In blue hair and eye shadow, black heels and dress, St. Vincent has ditched the earnest, warm virtuoso persona and is in cold, experimental, mechanical animal mode. It’s like when Lil Wayne did that whole “I’m from outer space” thing in that it was cool and the music backed up the swagger.

February’s eponymous release, her fifth and most digestible studio album, is overrun with pulsing, fresh electro beats–the kind bros in v-necks couldn’t help but air drum to here. Her sound was a beach-invading torrent, the bass drops and kick drum combos were too much for my ears up front in a great way. St. Vincent has the subversive festival invasion performance art thing down pat: lull you with soft, winding tracks that mix with pleasant indie rock home playlists, then channel noise through gluttonous, buoyant guitars live. The drummer’s noise cancellation headphones were fair warning.

Visually, her three-piece band was nicely accompanied by sea foam green blocks, three center stage pink risers. St. Vincent stood atop the decorative mini-pyramid and roared–she looked like Zuul from “Ghostbusters.”

At the end I spotted actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin from “Superbad”) rocking out like a man possessed in a Boston Red Sox cap. Suddenly St. Vincent is on a security guard’s shoulders, wearing a fan’s floral head dress and waving another’s Colorado flag. Take no prisoners.