St. Lucia kicked off its three-week Tuesday night residency at Pianos yesterday, celebrating its upcoming Neon Gold release. And with Slam Donahue on the roster, Pianos was probably the place to be even if it hadn’t been a free show. Filling the venue with peppy dance-pop and synths, both bands really brought it on night No. 1.
Bursting right into the floating guitar melodies and stuck-in-your-head-for-weeks chorus of “Where Were We On The Weekend,” lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Otto of Slam Donahue sang, “When people get together, it’s not easily avoided/Breakin’ all your shit drunk/We’ll laugh until the morning comes,” like a nasal but endearing teen. Shirtless and with bleach-blond hair-metal-band locks flying around, drummer Keenan Mitchell (vocalist of Fort Lean) started the loud, heavy and fast drums of “I Know,” matching the quick pace of Otto’s vocals and bouncing guitar melodies, as well as bassist Thomas Sommerville’s shouted backing vocals. With several harmonious ooos between lyrics, Slam Donahue’s bedroom demo style kept up its rawness in the live setting. Finishing up the set with the bubbly and hook-laden “It’s Scary,” the group had the intimate crowd shouting along to every last “ya, ya, ya” between hand-clap drum beats and fizzy guitar riffs.
After a brief soundcheck, St. Lucia began its set with airy synths, rolling drums and smashing guitars. Lead vocalist/guitarist Jean-Philip Grobler provided towering vocals that meshed perfectly with the New Wave keyboard parts coming from Patricia Beranek and the smooth sax solos from guest Mike Ruby. After starting the second song with an enthusiastic chorus of, “Don’t go, don’t go away,” Grobler had to stop for a minute with a quick explanation of, “Sorry, guys, we’re having technical difficulties. This is very important.” And with a laugh, he shouted out, “Let’s try that again,” smoothly transitioning right back into the chorus as the crowd cheered.
“All Eyes On You” began with a slow crash of cymbals and simple guitar plucking. The song swiftly built up with a heavy bass-drum beat from drummer Nick Brown, one of Ruby’s much-applauded sax solos and a sing-along chorus reminiscent of Temper Trap. The band chemistry was evident as the members laughed and smiled with one another while playing. Often featuring romantically charged lyrics like, “I can’t imagine there’s a way to get closer than this/I have a feeling we won’t get closer than this,” St. Lucia blended jazzy guitar riffs with clanging keys and intermittent smashing cymbals that filled the back room of Pianos.
Photos by Kerry McNeil