Saturday night, the MTV VMAs kicked things off with a pre-party at Avalon in Hollywood, showcasing talent as part of their Artists to Watch. Though none of the performers on this night were up for the actual award the following day, Walk the Moon, St. Lucia, Robert Delong and HOLYCHILD are all talent worth keeping an eye on for the future. Grimy Goods has been covering them for years, but it looks like the folks at MTV are just finally catching on.
Headlining were indie pop sensations Walk the Moon, who’ve been blowing up big as of late. They’ve never been a huge favorite of mine but I’ve got to give them credit, they know how to ramp things up in their live performance. My friend that came with said they reminded him a bit of Neon Trees and I found that to be a good call. The crowd sure seemed to be really into them and the level of response they got suggested to me they’ve got staying power.
South Africa synth-poppers St. Lucia have been one of my favorites since seeing them at Coachella back in April. I’ve had a chance to catch them a few times on the festival circuit this year and they put on a great show. Jean-Philip Grobler is the brainchild behind the operation and there was something to be said for how he had his hair flowing so seamlessly thanks to a fan blowing behind him, as if he was Beyonce. Their tropical sounds and excellent use of percussion was grand, particularly during favorites “Closer Than This” and “Elevate.”
Perhaps the most impressive performer on the night was longtime favorite of Los Angeles, Robert DeLong. The multi-instrumentalist is the polar opposite of a DJ that just pushes play. He fired up the crowd while jumping between drums and a variety of MIDI devices, some of which are hooked up to gaming joysticks and – from what I could tell – a Nintendo Wi controller. His ability to loop in a live setting was not lost on the crowd, perhaps because the sounds were so damn danceable. “Long Way Down” and “Global Concepts” were enough on their own to make me want to check him out at his upcoming Fonda Theatre date in late November.
Opening up the show was LA indie pop duo HOLYCHILD, comprised of vocalist Liz Nistico and multi-instrumentalist Louie Diller. The chemistry between the two can not be denied, nor can the charisma from Nistico in particular. She danced all along the stage like a wildwoman, also jumping into the crowd and running over to the far-side bar, climbing and dancing up on top of it.
The event also was the second straight one in which I ingested free Taco Bell, as the Halsey record release show the night before had a truck outside. At this event, people brought out the Taco Bell to you and it was an interesting sight to see girls all dressed up in their best club attire chow down on Doritos Locos tacos and bean burritos.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photos via MTV