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Images: Vasili Papathanasopoulos.
Last night, fans flooded to Sydney's Hordern Pavillion having scored the hottest ticket in town. American musician and producer Steve Lacy took to the stage for the first of two sold-out shows at the iconic venue, delivering an unforgettable evening of live music. Lacy reached critical acclaim earlier this year for his chart-topping single Bad Habits and sophomore album GEMINI RIGHTS. His Australian tour sold-out in minutes, and he's also touring the country as one of the drawing artists for Spilt Milk.
Lacy has brought along his collaborator Fousheé, who co-penned the artists hit single Bad Habits. She herself has recently released a long-form project, softCORE. She bursts onstage with an urgent energy performing simmer down, setting the tone for her punk-meets-R&B leaning set. Fousheé has a captivating stage presence with an enigmatic quality. She thrashes around on stage capturing the confidence and anger present within her music in a physical form, and delivers powerful vocals.
As the lights dim, the sold-out crowds phones go up like a wave of lights. Lacy's drummer appears on stage to get the crowd warmed up with a drum solo, followed by the rest of his band dressed in matching white shirts with the letter 'S' splashed across them. Lacy is rocking a look synonymous with the GEMINI RIGHTS era, futuristic sunglasses and all as he launches into the opening track, Buttons. From the outset, he has the crowd in the palm of his hand.
The audience devotionally sings along to every word of every song, mesmerised not only by Lacy's soothing vocal tones but also his engaging guitar work. He switches to acoustic during mercury, before sharing his astonishment at how fast the tour sold-out. "You broke the ticket booth" he says, as the crowd erupts in cheers proud of their work. Lacy uses a number of guitars throughout the night, holding each one as a prized possession as he plays through his illustrious catalogue.
Throughout the set, heralded by tracks from the musicians sophomore album GEMINI RIGHTS. Lacy takes centre stage as an artist in his own right away from his previous work with The Internet. With effortless ease, he meanders through sonic notes of funk, R&B, jazz, hip-hip and psychedelia with his band, whilst exploring the ebbs and flows of life following the demise of a relationship, seeking pleasure on the road to self-discovery. Tracks like N Side and Static provoke loud sing-a-long moments from the crowd, with the latter's simmering and crunchy tones mesmerising the audience. A group of fans were ecstatically jumping around throughout the whole song, shouting each and every word as they lapped up the whole experience. Lacy later invited Fousheé to join him to perform their collaboration, Sunshine, bringing a palpable connection as the two frolick across the stage with beaming smiles.
Whilst the tours production was minimal, the use of lighting and visuals evoking each songs conceptual nature. Pink hues filled the arena during N Side, whilst blue tones flooded through on Lay Me Down, which featured a magnetic guitar solo from Lacy. Red imagery was shown during Helmet, another track that prompted enthusiastic dancing from his devoted audience. During Some, the musician commanded "Wave your flash lights over there," and within seconds the venue was full of twinkling lights. The songs slower pace created a moment of pure unity, within a crowd that was already bound by its celebration for Lacy's compositions.
He asks the crowd, "How many of you guys have been rocking with me since Steve Lacy's Demos?" referring to his debut EP. Of course, the crowd once again erupted in cheers, to which the musician responded "Oh yeah? I'm gonna play some stuff from that now." The audience ferociously sang along to Ryd, and Infrunami from The Lo-Fis, proving their love for the musician pre-dates his viral success. Lacy's knack for conversational and relatable lyricism allowed the performance to feel intimate within the crowd of approximately 5000 attendees. This was furthered by Lacy's interaction and humorous quips. He never takes himself too seriously, you just have to look at his social media channels to learn that, but it's an endearing quality that makes not only his music loveable, but also his personality.
Of course, the nights biggest moment arrived with Bad Habit. Lacy danced with the crowd, allowing them to take the lead with rapturous cheers and screams, chanting the track almost like a hymn. And perhaps for some it was a spiritual experience, coming together with a group of 5000 strangers that share a common interest and relate to the same set of words. But perhaps the biggest takeaway of the evening is Lacy's inimitable artistry. He delivers zesty guitar solos amidst smooth and sultry vocals, often showcasing his range by reaching captivating high notes that linger in your ears. It's no doubt that Steve Lacy is a virtuosic superstar, but his live show cements his place as one of the most exciting contemporary artists.
Images: Vasili Papathanasopoulos.
Gemini Rights is out now!