El Rey Theatre
February 11, 2014
Last night, St. Lucia made the El Rey look and sound like an '80s-themed Caribbean vacation. Thanks to their mostly-upbeat and synth-pop infused tunes, the indie outfit's first L.A. show of their headlining tour was a warm escape from the SoCal winter night.
St. Lucia performed not just through their music, but also with colorful threads and bouncy demeanors. Along with his band, frontman and South Africa native Jean-Philip Grobler was dressed for the summertime as both he and his wife/band mate Patti Beranek were wearing brightly colored shoes and all print everything. The rest of the band followed suit with tourist-style, print button downs. The four-year-old, Brooklyn-based group brought warm weather vibes with them onstage as well.
Joining this L.A. staycation was an eclectic crowd that included both your friendly, neighborhood hipsters and an elderly couple. There was a lot of hand holding, as the show was clearly a casual Tuesday date night. How nice!
St. Lucia opened strong with the M83-esque “Night Comes Again” followed by “The Old House is Gone” and keyboard-rich, “Before the Dive.” They sounded tight in terms of sound quality and precision. Although some concert attendees seemed bored out of their minds, looking to Instagram to save them from the indie-pop candy, the crowd was mostly clap-happy and more or less engaged.
Then, came the chanting. St. Lucia's concert signature is to have the crowd chant, “Don't go, don't go away!” throughout the entirety of their breakup song, “We Got it Wrong.” Although not everyone was into repeating the phrase for five minutes straight, the crowd managed to keep it going till the end of the jam.
At this point, the shamelessly-'80s inspired tunes started running together, and by the time their hit “Elevate” came on, a girl turned to me and asked, “Didn't they play this song already?” Nonetheless, Grobler had the crowd singing, dancing, and jumping – especially when the band whipped out a mediocre yet energetic cover of Chaka Khan's “Ain't Nobody.” More people seemed to groove to that jam than they did to “Elevate.”
Post-cover song, the show went a bit downhill. The subdued ballad “Paper Heart” seemed out-of-place after an entire setlist of loud, poppy jams. Even though Beranek shone with a pretty solo at the beginning of the tune, the song's ambient guitar and dramatic drums were reminiscent of something you might hear on The Breakfast Club soundtrack, (and not in the good way.) Meanwhile, another girl next to us kept asking her friend, “Do you want to leave?”
After closing with “Too Close,” The band came back for a lovely two-song encore that included “September,” which was easily the best song of the night. Instead of quitting while they were ahead, Grobler took a group picture of the crowd and then led his band in another song that sort of sounded like every other song they played. Yippee!
In the end, although they were slightly top-heavy, St. Lucia put on a crisp, passionate set as fun as the band's own whimsically tropical outfits.