St. Lucia’s sunny clothes reflected their upbeat music. (Photo courtesy Sweetlife Festival.)
The Sweetlife Festival, celebrating its fifth year in the D.C. metropolitan area, brought an estimated 20,000 attendees to the Merriweather Post Pavilion for three stages of bands and several lots of food and beer. Presented by D.C. salad shop Sweetgreen, the festival stretched for about 11 hours, 20 musical acts and perhaps a combined 80 food vendors and retail stores on Saturday, May 10.
While the festival had a few repeat acts this year, I personally found the lineup a lot more to my musical tastes than last year’s festival.
I arrived in time to catch some of St. Lucia, the Brooklyn dreampop outfit headed by producer Jean-Philip Grobler. Dressed in Hawaiian shirts, Grobler and company gave a performance as bright as their clothing, showcasing songs from the band’s debut album, When the Night. I managed to catch St. Lucia’s best song, the new wave jam “Elevate,” a feel-good confidence booster of a song that certainly complemented the pleasant weather and beachware found at the Sweetlife Festival’s Treehouse Stage early in the day.
A short trip to the mainstage revealed one of the significant perks of being a Sweetlife VIP—free salads from Sweetgreen were available near the VIP bar to stage right. Friends and I took the opportunity to relax and check out some vendors before I hopped over the main stage to catch a bit of Bastille, the London synthpop quartet best known for their hit “Pompeii” from their debut album last year, Bad Blood. I caught an fun performance of the very wave “Of the Night,” a mash up of 1990s European dance hits “The Rhythm of the Night” by Italian group Corona and “Rhythm Is a Dancer” by German group Snap!. Bastille and singer Dan Smith brought a charm and energy all their own to the performance, however, and I made a mental note to look into their upcoming performance at the Patriot Center on Saturday, Oct. 11.
It was 2010 and music virtuoso, producer, remixer and collaborator, Jean-Philip Grobler was stuck. The rock project he currently belabored on felt forced, unnatural; he turned to the past, looking for inspiration from Peter Gabriel, Fleetwood Mac, Madonna – potentially DC’s very own Thievery Corporation, for a jolt of inspiration. At this moment of stuckness, the young South African found both the inspiration he was looking for and birthed the idea for a new project that would become St. Lucia.
St. Lucia’s sound is distinct with a solid grounding in the best music from the 80s and 90s, with a constant freshness and an eye towards the future. Think a harmonious, fun mix of Cindy Lauper, Lionel Richie, Rick Astley, John Secada, and All Saints. Throughout my first listen to their first record, When The Night, I was consistently noting rifts, sounds and harmonies that were clearly inspired from previous artists, although I was hard pressed to get specific to the artist or their track. Their sound draws on the past, but evolves it, making it their own.
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St. Lucia will be at the BlackCat this Tuesday, and although the show is sold out, I highly recommend going the extra mile to snag a ticket because from my Q&A with Grobler it sounds like the band is going to BRING. IT. Continue reading
Yeah we’re a little late with our monthly concert round-up, but hey even we need a little R n R from concert going and writing. Nevertheless, there are still PLENTY of solid shows left in the month of January, so keeping reading after the jump for recommendations (St. Lucia, Cate Le Bon, Phosphorescent, Delorean, Pixies and MORE) on how you should kick off the first month of your 2014 DC concert goings.