October 25th, 2016 at House of Blues Boston
By: Nicole Piker
If there is one thing everyone should know about St. Lucia, it’s that they know how to make every show a performance. Their vibrant set had large diamond shaped lights that changed colors with the music, dramatic risers for the drummers, and even cactuses. The Brooklyn-based band, started by South African-born artist Jean-Phillip, came to the House of Blues in Boston on Tuesday, October 25th.
Coming to the House of Blues, I was met with a long line of people waiting for the doors to open. The energy was high from the people around me and, by eight, the opening band, Baio, had hit the stage. The band consists of just two members, Chris Baio, best known as the bassist for Vampire Weekend, and a guitarist. Despite Baio’s history in Vampire Weekend, I found the performance to be very awkward. Much of his singing was flat, especially on higher notes. Although it was clear that his intended sound was a new take on old classic rock, it just did not work, especially on a stage with just two people. If the stage performance had been arranged differently, some of his songs, like “Sister of Pearl,” would have sounded better.
By the time Baio left the stage and St. Lucia was preparing to come on, I turned around to find a crowd was packed with college students and young professionals behind me, eager to see St. Lucia live. Suddenly the lights dimmed to a deep blue and the music started. The band positioned themselves on stage, Patricia Berenek on the left as percussionist and female vocalist, Nick Paul on the back left as percussionist and keyboardist, Dustin Kaufman on the back right as drummer, and Ross Clark on the right as the electric bassist. The lights were changing colors wildly as Jean-Phillip Grobler entered the stage singing “Paper Heart” with a baby blue electric guitar. Song after song, from “Closer Than This” to “Do You Remember” to “Elevate,” the audience was dancing along. There was not a moment where the band did not look like there was a party on stage. As an alternative pop band, many of the songs were light-hearted and unequivocally fun. When “We Got It Wrong” came on, St. Lucia led the audience in singing a line, “Don’t go away,” when Jean-Phillip Grobler pointed at us. The next song played, my personal favorite, “Dancing on Glass” was particularly great due to the effort of the percussionists and the build-up to the chorus. Right after this song, Jean-Phillip Grobler picked up his bandmates electric bass for the song “All Eyes on You.” The harmonizing of voices in this song were beautiful to listen to. They also used the disco lights in some parts of this song, which only added to the incredible lighting design that was utilized throughout the show. In the song, “Winds of Change,” Patricia Beranek led the audience in clapping along, adding depth to the song with her vocals. As the set was coming to a close, St. Lucia serenaded the audience with “Too Close,” followed by their popular song “September.” The audience was so engrossed in “September” that Grobler responded by jumping off the stage into the audience as the beat was dropping. They ended the first portion of their set with “Physical,” one of their dance songs that made the crowd beg for an encore.
Luckily, St. Lucia came back for three more songs, “Love Somebody,” “Home,” and “Elevate.” For this first encore song, the band came back on stage without the lead singer. Although we could hear him singing, we could not see him as he moved through the audience singing the love ballad. Grobler got back on stage for the second song, “Home,” jumping around the stage with the rest of the band. It was fitting that the show ended with “Elevate” as it was the first song that St. Lucia gained attention for. Seeing St. Lucia live was a very enjoyable experience, and I look forward to catching them again when they return to Boston.