WASHINGTON, DC: Marnie Stern performs at the Black Cat Backstage. Thursday, May 9, 2013. ? Brandon Wu / For the Washington City Paper.

Thursday night, on the second-to-last show of her current tour supporting her new album The Chronicles of Marnia, Marnie Stern started off with an apology: “My voice is shot.” Not something you want to hear from a musician whose compositions are heavy on fast-paced, aggressive vocals. But after a couple of admittedly rough songs, Stern seemed to figure out how to compensate for her vocal fatigue, and a crowded Black Cat backstage got the virtuosic, hypnotizing show it expected.

That said, the closing song of the main set, “The Crippled Jazzer” from Stern’s interminably titled 2008 album This Is It… (etc), ended with a lengthy instrumental jam that was easily the highlight of the show. This raised a question many have surely asked before: What if Stern laid off the vocals a bit and gave her complex compositions a bit more room to breathe? Much as her idiosyncratic vocals have grown on me, I’d buy an instrumental Marnie Stern album in a heartbeat.

Check out the full slideshow for more photos.