St. Lucia's Jean-Philip Grobler
St. Lucia At Hollywood Palladium
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By Brent Burns
When the sounds of St. Lucia splashed into the United States courtesy of "Closer Than This" and "All Eyes On You," it was clear the South African-bred artist could create rich and powerful soundscapes alongside thoughtful lyrics and stunning vocals. And during a performance on Oct. 25 at the Hollywood Palladium, his talents were clearly on display.
At approximately 8:15 p.m. Jean-Philip Grobler, aka St. Lucia, and his accompanying band took the stage to rabid applause. They opened with the lyrically daring, piano-driven "Before The Dive." The brooding and subversive lyrics were delivered with stern expressions from St. Lucia as he kept his guitar close and leaned into his microphone to explode into the cosmic-shattering chorus: "I hope that we will never forget, seeing sinners of the night/I hope that we will never regret, seeing sinners of the night/'Cause we cannot, can't ever, no we cannot, take it back." His emotion seemed to take an audience encased in a UFO-shaped venue far into the reaches of the universe.
Originally from Johannesburg, St. Lucia's musical upbringing began when he performed with the Drakensberg Boys' Choir, with whom he learned everything from Bach to minimalist opera. Yet you'd never know St. Lucia's roots are in classical music.
St. Lucia followed with several songs from his 2012 self-titled EP, including "Closer Than This," "All Eyes On You" and the ethereal "We Got It Wrong."
The evening came to a close with "September," a perfect capstone to the band's seven-song set. It began with a dark synth soundscape, driven by sharp percussion and swirling synths that washed over the audience. But dark gave way to light as tambourines glistened and bright electro sounds flourished, twinkling and fluttering around mysterious unidentifiable vocals. Then St. Lucia's falsetto appeared and the game was won. "September" proved the precise balance of haunting and uplifting, all with a tropical undertone transporting listeners to a vacation state of mind. Seldom had such a windy Los Angeles night felt so warm and lush.
For those in the Los Angeles area tonight, I highly suggest experiencing St. Lucia at his show at the Satellite. He'll be accompanied by Night Terrors Of 1927 and Beat Club.
"Before The Dive"
"Closer Than This"
"All Eyes On You"
"We Got It Wrong"
"The Way You Remember Me"
(Brent Burns is the dance/electronica GRAMMY.com Community Blogger.)