Live Concert Photography: Spotify Fan First at North Brooklyn Farms 9/12/18: St. Lucia
Jean-Philip Grobler is a Johannesburg, South Africa-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he attended the renowned Drakensburg Boys Choir School as a boy. Interestingly, when Grobler turned 12, he started writing his own original music, inspired by 80s pop — primarily Boyz II Men, Michael Jackson, Sting and Phil Collins — while touring internationally. As the story goes, when the choir wasn’t touring, they lived in a remote enclave in the South African mountains, learning a wide and diverse array of music, including minimalist opera, Bach and strangely enough Celine Dion. As Grobler became a teenager, he had become bored with classical music and got into rock music — and wanting more out of his creative life, he left South Africa and spent three years studying and writing in Liverpool.
Eventually, Grobler relocated to Brooklyn, where he had started a failed rock-based project but unsurprisingly, he almost always found himself turning towards the music and listened to and adored as a child — 80s pop, 80s synth pop and African music. The South African-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist returned to the studio with a new, urgent purpose and wrote, produced and played every instrument on a series of tracks as St. Lucia. And with those tracks under his belt, Jean Philip Grobler with a live backing band that features Ross Clark (bass), Nick Paul (keys, synths), Dustin Kaufman (drums) and Grobler’s wife Patti Beranek (keys, percussion, backing vocals) began playing live shows across town, quickly gaining the attention of the blogosphere; however, it was 2011’s CMJ Festival, where the band picked up national attention with their live sets being critically praised as some of the best of that year’s festival.
With a rapidly growing profile, Grobler and company won the attention of Neon Gold Records and Columbia Records, who re-released St. Lucia’s self-titled debut EP, the September EP, as well as 2013’s debut When the Night and 2016’s Matter. Earlier this week Spotify and Verizon hosted an intimate, invite-only, fan-centered live show featuring the acclaimed pop act in front of a a few hundred fans at North Brooklyn Farms. Sadly, it was a damp, humid and overall uncomfortable night but the set was a crowd pleasing and comprehensive set that included a ton of fan favorites, including “Closer Than This,” “Elevate” and others, as well as a bunch of material off the act’s third full-length album Hyperion, which officially drops today. Although it was a quick 40 minute set of winningly hook-driven pop, the night ended with a Q&A session featuring Grobler and Beranek answering a number of fan-submitted questions and others. Check out photos from the night below.