St. Lucia is not named after the island in the Caribbean just north of South America, but the group does craft sunny, tropical indie-pop with plenty of world rhythms. According to frontman, founder, and lead singer Jean-Philip Grobler, band members didn’t bother showering after a trip to the beach they made just prior to going onstage Tuesday night at the Culture Room.
Considering all this, St. Lucia, a project born in Grobler’s native South Africa, feels like it should be a band from South Florida. But just because it's not geographically from here doesn’t mean it couldn’t put on a show like locals happy to be home.
With succulent desert plants adorning the stage, including a pair of cacti, as well as two golden diamonds in the backdrop, the members of St. Lucia slowly took their places, letting the anticipation build before the five-piece was completed by Grobler. Their first number, “Rescue Me,” off of their new record, Matter, is perfectly suited to do just that with its long, shimmering intro; it’s the type of song Grobler loves to write because it has drama built into it, much like “September” from the group's debut, When the Night.
Once it was off and running, the band went to work, powering through a trio of fan favorites including “Do You Remember?,” the glorious and sentimental “Closer Than This,” and “Wait for Love,” another recent addition to the group's
After “Dancing on Glass,” Grobler took
Indeed, the lyrics to “Dancing on Glass,” if taken literally, contain a few lines that are now haunting when they were never meant to be: “How long 'til we learn/Dancing is dangerous.” For the poor souls at Pulse, they committed no crime outside of trying to have a good time and dance the night away.
Of the tragedy, Grobler commented, “You don’t choose who you are or who you love and it sucks that a few have to fuck it up for the rest of us.” It’s a sentiment most of us would agree with wholeheartedly, but it really hit home at Culture Room last night, considering Wilton Manors is a mere two miles away and the audience last night had a healthy presence of young gay couples.
Grobler dedicated the next pair of songs to the victims of the Orlando shooting because “they are songs about love.” Those songs included one of
After tying the flag to the mic stand, Grobler and his mates added more color to their set with “Going Home” and an accompaniment of steel drums, neon lights, and maracas; it was like a quick trip back in time to the famed Tropicana Club in Havana in the '50s minus the half-naked dancing girls. “Physical” was a bouncy dance party clad in reds and blues like a nightclub where the police and their sirens signal the start of the fun instead of shutting it down.
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The setlist worked well for several reasons. For one, all the songs, from either of the albums, meshed together seamlessly. Sometimes bands go in a completely different direction on their sophomore efforts and it ends ups flopping or alienating fans. Not St. Lucia. It knows its appeal and maintains a consistently vibrant atmosphere throughout. Each song is bursting with glitter and lollipops, items that tend to stick to everything, but in the case of St. Lucia, you want them to stay stuck for as long as the bond can hold.
It’s a bond of togetherness underscored by the encore where St. Lucia closed the show with “Too Close” and “Elevate” and in a simple address, Grobler struck upon a certain degree of innocence. “Thank you for coming out on a school night,” he said to the audience. “But you don’t give a fuck, do you?”
The long-term answer to that question is complicated, but in the short term, all that mattered was the present, and it held a bright and wonderful escape.