St. Lucia/Sir Sly – El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA 2/11/14

Dreams can come true. They can at least for those wishing to be stuck inside a 1980’s movie soundtrack.

With a sound that seems straight out of a John Hugh’s movie, Jean-Philip Grobler and his band St. Lucia delivered a night of ‘80’s-inspired dreamy dance-pop for the first of two sold-out crowds at LA’s El Rey Theatre.

The South African-born, New York-based Grobler and company set the tone for the night with the up-tempo “The Night Comes Again,” the lead track off their debut album Night Comes Again.

As the name of the band might suggest, there are some tropical beats that influence St. Lucia’s music, as evident by the first song the band recorded “The Old House is Gone,” a tune sprinkled with the Caribbean sounds of the  steel drum. And Grobler, too, had the look to match the band name’s tropical locale, coming out on stage dressed in a palm tree printed white blazer and a sporty pair of zebra-striped slip on shoes.

The band shined most when it played its catchy songs filled with booming choruses and lush dance beats, such as with “Closer Than This,” “The Way You Remember Me” and “Wait For Love.” However, things appeared to fall a bit flat on the crowd when playing its cover of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and slower tunes like “Paper Heart,” despite a great intro drum solo by new-comer Justin Kaufman.

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While it may have been a sold-out crowd, many at times seemed apathetic and uninterested, using the live music as a back-drop to their own personal conversations. Grobler did his best to keep the crowd involved, especially on the song “We Got It Wrong” where he encouraged fans to sing along to the chorus “don’t go, don’t go away,” a chant that faded in numbers participating as the song progressed.

The highlight of the night came during “September,” the first of two songs performed during the encore. Filled with heavy bass lines and funky beats, the band let loose and the crowd responded with equal passion and enthusiasm… With the crowd engaged and energy high, this would have been a perfect song to conclude the night. Instead, the momentum was broken when Grobler took a crowd shot after the song and ended the night with the comparatively less-inspiring “When the Night.”

Sir Sly, the once mysterious band that anonymously released music online before making its identity known to the world, wrapped up its lag of the tour with St. Lucia with a show before its hometown fans.

The band’s dark, synth-pop music with sharp electronic dance beats and airy, high-pitched vocals often draws comparisons to other groups like The Neighbourhood and Foster the People, but distinguishes itself with more edge instrumentally and lyrically to it songs. This is particularly evident in the song “Gold,” a contemplative tune about personal ambitions and success, overlaid with haunting piano notes throughout.

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Lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Landon Jacobs successfully illustrates the emotion and feeling in each song through his facial expressions and passion performing. And with all the dark imagery and sound—and even includes a song titled “Ghosts” in its repertoire—it’s only fitting that the band has the drummer probably voted “most likely to see dead people” in Hayden Coplen, who bears a strong resemblance to Haley Joel Osment.

Sir Sly’s songs may show that not everything is bright and sunny that comes out of Southern California, but it also demonstrates that the Golden State has a bright future for dark, synth-based dance music.

Live photos by Scott Sheff

 Set List

The Night Comes Again

The Old House is Gone

Closer Than This

Wait For Love

We Got It Wrong

All Eyes On you

Elevate

Ain’t Nobody (Chaka Khan cover)

Paper Heart (Drum solo intro)

The Way You Remember Me

Too Close

Encore:

September

When the Night

 

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