Tuesday night at the Wiltern felt like the weekend, according to the star of the night, Jean-Philip Grobler aka St. Lucia. He’s currently on a nationwide tour in support of his sophomore album, Matter, traveling for several weeks with his full band and BAIO, who has supported him at every date. For their stop in LA, neither artist pulled any punches in creating the most exciting show they could, each with their unique electro pop style.
Chris Baio has been working on his solo project for the past few years, starting out with small DJ gigs then graduating to performing all original material as he geared up to release his debut LP, The Names, which came out last year. I saw a preview of the music at School Night, where he had perhaps four square feet of room to show us what kind of performer he is when not attached to Vampire Weekend. At the Wiltern, BAIO had a lot more stage to play with and brought out a guitarist to accompany him live while he stuck to the turntables.
BAIO is not the most innovative electronic musician I’ve heard nor would I characterize his live show as revolutionary, but hell, the whole affair still is fresh and fun. Not another DJ could make tapping one button in time to the beat look so amusing. Nor could any other white boy make shaking your tush at the audience seem so adorable. With the larger scope and depth to his sound, BAIO’s short set left me wanting to dance.
St Lucia delivered on my wish tenfold, putting the crowd on its feet for the very first song and continuing the energy all night long. They played a healthy mix of tracks from the new album and his debut, When the Night, delighting just about everyone with tracks like “Closer Than This” and “Elevate,” which turned out to be the grand finale of the night. The stage was also busy with props, be they uncommon instruments or a few cacti. For your average performer, especially ones that like to run around like David Byrne, the decoration could have been a hindrance, but Grobler’s movement commanded the room as if he was the only one in it.
His energy was definitely what made it a party. He bounded across the stage, leapt at the microphone, jumped down into the crowd, and all while somehow keeping exactly in time to the rhythm, making it all seem like the most meticulously erratic solo dance routine I’ve ever seen. It made sense that he would need a fan to cool him down all night, as he must have been sweating his ass off from the excitement. It also probably led to some great photos, blowing his hair back effortlessly. We could feel his fervor; typically artists have to coax the crowd into jumping or clapping in synchrony, but the folks there to see St. Lucia were way ahead of the band; during “Dancing on Glass,” the crowd’s singing reverberated off the walls in perfect harmony.
Returning to centerstage for their encore, Grobler introduced a few new folks to play alongside the band for the final couple songs. Among the newcomers there was Chris Baio, back to perform one final song for the night. “We’ve only done this twice this tour,” Grobler explained, doubling our anticipation for what was to come. Honoring his home continent, they all covered Toto’s “Africa,” a fitting ‘80s tribute where we all rejoiced in blessing the rain.
Words: Zoë Elaine
Photography: Danielle Gornbein