Tuned In: St. Vincent And Cake Angle For Prime Booking, Then Play Their Hearts Out

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With the late shows just coming back from hiatus, and the VMAs only one day earlier, yesterday was not exactly prime late-night booking for big artists?but it did present an opportunity for artists who might otherwise have difficulty competing for airtime. St. Vincent on The Late Show with David Letterman, and to a lesser extent Cake on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, leaped at the opportunity, turning out great performances in what, for them, is a great venue.

St. Vincent, whose new album Strange Mercy is set to be released September 13, has scored a series of promotional coups: appearing on the September 2011 cover of Spin, performing on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and premiering the comically dark video for “Cruel” in unlikely venue The Huffington Post. Last night’s performance of “Cruel” was actually her second Late Show appearance?she performed “Marrow” in June of 2009?but she was hardly going through the motions. If “Cruel” is a good indication, her new album will be a fall highlight.

Cake, meanwhile, are hardly unknowns?1996′s Fashion Nugget went platinum on the strength of “The Distance”?but January’s Showroom of Compassion was their first LP in over six years, and self-released besides. That being said, this return to The Tonight Show (they performed “Long Time” on March 1) is if not unprecedented at least improbable for a band at this stage in their career, and they, too, made the best of it, with a well-performed rendition of “Mustache Man (Wasted).”

St. Vincent “Cruel” 8/29 Letterman [The Audio Perv]