It has been a good minute since I’ve seen a decent show at San Luis Obispo’s premier music venue, SLO Brew. But alas, St. Lucia and opener Robert DeLong came to save the concert drought that this venue has been suffering for quite some time . The line down Garden St. featured many a college student with Robert Delong’s signature face paint. After a long day of work, I can’t say that I was mentally prepared for what I was anticipating to be a jump-up-and-down- mindlessly-at-the-drop type of EDM set. But, much to my surprise and utter enjoyment, Robert DeLong’s musical style is truly a novelty. With definitive elements of EDM, he transgresses the genre as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist on stage. The LA-based musician utilized a myriad of instruments, from a drumset and laptop to a Wiimote (yes, the remote controller used to play the Wii). Let’s just say there were some impressive uses of video game controllers, so the inner video game dweeb squealed within all of us. Most impressively of all, the Win Butler doppelganger was able to establish and maintain immense energy throughout the set, no small feat for an opener. His biggest hit “Global Concepts” from his album Just Movement was the biggest crowd pleaser of the night. For me, however, his best performance was his rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” The classic jam translated well into up-tempo electronica, and did not lose any of its melodic catchiness.
We stood far back for DeLong’s set, which doesn’t mean bad viewing considering SLO brew is a 400 person venue, and decided to move stage left for St. Lucia. And wouldn’t you know it, there was an empty spot right against the stage (concert luck is the best kind of luck). We were right under the nose of keyboardist Patricia Beranek, whose closeness warranted a chuckle when the opening lights nearly blinded everyone. Their stage production was some of the most impressive I have seen at SLO Brew. As much as I love the venue, its singular good quality is inherent in the fact that it’s the only venue in the county that catches a lot bands touring between San Francisco and LA. Other than the names it occasionally books, and its intimacy, its not up to par with those of the bigger cities. The stage is unbearably small for its performers and is tucked away in a corner which is easily obscured by a beam awkwardly erect in the middle of the floor. All things considered, though, this joint holds a special place in my heart, so I try not to let its shortcomings ruin the fact that I’ve seen some of my favorite acts here.
Despite how little space the venue offers, St. Lucia did not let that hinder their performance or their fervor. The synth heavy, 80’s throwback band did not disappoint. Their sound definitely hearkens back to the 80’s pop of Duran Duran and Genesis, but is reinvigorated by the quality of production and talent brought on by Jean-Philip Grobler, mastermind and lead vocalist behind St. Lucia. Their best tracks are those that err on the edge of saccharine but are just so irresistibly catchy that it’s hard not to fall in love with them. Songs like “Closer Than This” and “Wait for Love” have a universal appeal and produced some of the best moments of the night. The last four songs of the set were what hit this show home for me. “September” is my personal favorite as it features a slightly edgier 80’s sound, the kind that Berlin capitalized on with their first album. “Elevate” is the ultimate feel good jam, which they played before the final song of the night “When The Night.” It was great to see a crowd full of too-cool looking people dancing to this feel good happy pop that St. Lucia delivered. The band will continue on with their “The Night Comes Again” tour through mid-November. If you can’t catch them on the last leg, at the very least check out their latest album When The Night.