By Elliot Gross
Edited by Tessa Rissacher
Singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Lacy stopped by San Francisco for his Apollo XXI tour on October 25th to perform for a sold-out crowd. The 21-year-old member of The Internet has turned heads recently with an onslaught of top-tier production credits including songs by Solange, Vampire Weekend, and Kendrick Lamar.
A DJ set by Violet Waters started things off. As the “crime-fighting alter-ego” of Arkansas rapper and producer Kari Faux, Waters mixed the slapping bass of E40 with the effortless vocals of modern soul artist Ari Lennox, restyling the vibe of the chandeliered Fillmore from regal venue into casual house party. The crowd of skullcap beanies and mustard-colored jeans thickened and warmed.
Before long, Lacy hit the stage, beaming in a pink linen suit. He opened with “Only If,” a short number with a funky guitar riff that got the crowd moving. “This next song is dedicated to the queers in here tonight,” said Lacy picking up a metallic pink bass guitar. The look of the instrument complemented his outfit just as the sound of it– the uplifting groove of “Playground”– complemented Lacy’s falsetto. The crowd was in full swing. Lacy kept the energy up with “Lay Me Down,” replete with a guitar solo directed into a wall of Orange amps for maximum feedback.
Halfway through the show, Lacy brought a MOOG synthesizer into play. As he twisted and turned the dials of the modulator, the audience underwent the aural equivalent of an alien abduction. It culminated in a ear-splitting ring and a light cue into total darkness. In the black, a soft violin began to come through the speakers– the instrumental “Amandla’s Interlude.” As lights rose, Lacy reappeared in a new, flannel-heavy ensemble, quipping, “UNIQLO needs to sponsor me because I look bomb.”
Near the end of the night, Lacy performed his hit “N Side” and the crowd screamed with love. Lacy took a long pause and brushed tears from his eyes. “San Fran you’re the first city to make me cry,” he said. The crowd soared.
Lacy ended the show with an “extra’d out version” of Happy Birthday to a fan. Then he had the house lights turned up so he could see the whole crowd. He told everyone to smile. “I need everyone, even you in the back to smile, it’s good for you.”