LIVE: St. Lucia, Hawthorne Theater, Portland, OR

By Darren Hicks

New York (via Johannesburg, South Africa) synth-pop band St. Lucia shook the very structure of the Hawthorne Theater last Friday night. But before that, a couple of other things happened.

Doors opened to the sounds of Sex Life, the DJ before the main event, who didn’t say a word until the very end of his 90-minute set. The energy in the room was kept up (a drop of “My Song 5” by HAIM sure got a lot of people’s attention) then as soon as Sex Life left the booth/table/whatever (he wasn’t present on stage), opener Sir Sly strolled on. A good number of people around me knew EVERY WORD to EVERY SONG, and seemed to have an established rapport with the lead, who admitted he was very sick before the show, although it wasn’t noticable in the least. They are a very dynamic live band, complete with canon-like drum-pounding. Very fun to watch.

As was the headliner of the evening. The opening synth-swells of When the Night lead track “The Night Comes Again” welcomed St. Lucia to the stage, and the party was on. The band blazed through their set with infectious energy. Playing most of their debut, a handful of songs from their first EP, and a few others. Lead singer Jean-Phillip Grobler seemed positively overjoyed the entire time, commanding a crowd jump-along to the bridge of fan favorite “Elevate”, and getting everyone to let loose (“It’s Friday night, come on!”) which we all happily conceded to. There was a killer drum solo leading into “The Way You Remember Me”, a massive rendition of “Too Close”, and the group sauntered off, only to return minutes later to close out the show with the disco-infused “September” and the seemingly 80’s training montage inspired title track from their record, “When the Night”, which included Grobler jumping around the stage guitar in hand, very reminiscent of Marty McFly when he “invented” the new sound. At song’s end, Grobler promptly collapsed to the floor while the others walked off, then got up, shook people’s hands, and left. It was a fantastic capper to a fantastic night, and you should plan on going when the night comes again.

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