Orange County welcomes St. Lucia

Peppy pop band St. Lucia brought high energy to their last official show on tour.


Anne Marie Larson/THE CHIMES

Anne Marie Larson, Writer

“Hello Sahn-tana!” South-African born lead singer Jean-Philip Grobler called from center-stage. I am assuming he actually said “Santa Ana;” however on first listen, the Brooklyn-based artist’s accent confused me.

An invisible fan blew

Cacti reminiscent of the cover art on their sophomore album “Matter” adorned the Observatory stage Saturday night. After alt-pop opener Grace Mitchell, fans anticipated a colorful show and St. Lucia delivered. Even a first-time listener like me could appreciate St. Lucia’s efforts to engage and captivate the audience.

An invisible fan blew through Grobler’s hair and ruffled his hip haircut. After some research, I learned this was because he gets so sweaty. And here I thought it was to enhance the aesthetic — which was on point, by the way.

Early in their set, they played “Closer Than This” and Grobler bounced around onstage singing, “I’ve got a feeling we will never get closer than this / I can’t imagine a way to get closer than this,” which really resonated with the audience because we were stuffed in the venue like hipster legs into skinny jeans.

pop sound waves and contained thrashing

The night progressed and “Dancing On Glass” moved even the most stagnant of audience members to bob along as soon as its first beats squeaked through the speakers. Most enthusiastic of all was a zealous plaid-clad dad in glasses grooving hard on the balcony.

Dual drum sets provided strong rhythms, as drums tend to do, and heavy percussion, synth and bass kept the crowd bumping. I noticed two kinds of bumps: swaying through ‘80s pop sound waves and contained thrashing, depending on the tempo St. Lucia pushed. “Help Me Run Away” brought wild hops and spilled beer while the throbbing flow of “September” made me feel like I was cruising through another galaxy.

During “Love Somebody” Grobler weaved through the crowd, thanks to a wireless mic, delighting squealing fans grasping iPhones to record the moment for Snapchat. All the while the four remaining band members jammed, including Patti Beranek, who is Grobler’s wife in addition to a tambourine master. She masterfully manned various rhythm instruments such as a giant gold gong that was not hit nearly enough, in my opinion.

true to its name

As they played “Physical” the twin gold diamonds backing the stage flashed red and cobalt. The song was true to its name and the crowd shimmied more than ever. The ongoing LED lightshow dazzled me. Combined with the dancyness, I felt like I was at a rave without the candi and acid, though good vibes remained regardless.

They played their biggest hit, “Elevate,” as the final encore.

“Let’s jump!” Grobler urged the crowd. Everyone did.

St. Lucia provided a safe, feel-good show, congruent with their uplifting lyrics. Their performance gifted the audience with the quintessential indie pop experience they sought.

St. Lucia is slated to play at Bonnaroo and Firefly music festivals later this year.

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