Annie Clark needs oat milk. The request arrives quietly and politely just before we speak, a hushed nothing off-handset before she picks up the phone and greets me brightly. Does she need any of mine, perhaps?
“Oh, it’s crucial,” the 39-year-old riffs back to me from her studio in LA. “Could I borrow some? Would you do that? I need to reach my maximum caffeination, and I haven’t met my quota for the day. Oat milk’s an integral part of it.”
If it seems like a wholly unremarkable exchange between a musician and a journalist, you may be unfamiliar with the various tales of Clark’s mercurial attitude to press interviews over the past decade or so. Previous set-ups have included requesting interviewers crawl into a small space to “challenge” both parties, playing pre-recorded answers to boring questions, asking the interview if they “enjoy doing this,” or simply refusing to answer at all. The result has largely been a proliferation of beard-scratching discourse about who or what constitutes the ‘real’ St. Vincent, or the ‘real’ Annie Clark, and how much one might inform the other.
Dressed in black trousers and a short-sleeved white shirt that suggested he may have just wrapped up an additional shift as a bus driver, singer Joe Talbot veered between the empathic and the vitriolic in his between-song missives as readily as he does in his music. 2021 album Crawler formed over a third of the set, and the frontman rarely missed an opportunity to lay blame at the UK’s incumbent Conservative government – not least on “Mother”, reminding listeners that “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”.
The focus of the evening never vanished. As the night’s entertainment drew to a close, Moscow was reportedly planning to annex Donetsk and Luhansk, while the European Union prepared to sanction Russian oil. The victims remain elsewhere, the extraordinary amount of money raised a temporary balm to a deeper political fracture.
Festivals are upon us once more, and, like the number of celebrities willing to cross a picket line to share wellness tips and vicarious drama with Beyoncé, some things in life remain exhaustingly predictable. Workshops on subjects ranging from lock-picking to 3D printing; artists performing in venues that include the local bus and a retro video games arcade; live-action Dungeons & Dragons, wherein someone successfully punches a fire; and of course, a procession of drag acts with show-stopping choreo sequences, including one ‘Ship To Wreck’ performance that involves someone dressed up as an actual boat.
Okay, so perhaps they do things a little differently in Boise.