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Steve Lacy Live at Apollo Theater Review

On October 5th, Steve Lacy performed a sold-out show at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, on the heels of his first LP, “Apollo XXI.”

Lacy’s music is known for being unique in style and structure, usually categorized as neo-soul/funk/R&B with an identifiably grungy sound that comes from producing without professional equipment. Lacy used Garageband on his iPhone to produce his first solo project, “Steve Lacy’s Demo,” as well as songs from The Internet’s “Ego Death.” “Apollo XXI” was made mostly on Lacy’s laptop. Only 21, Lacy has a growing fanbase and an impressive history of collaborations. In addition to playing guitar for The Internet, Lacy has produced for J. Cole, Solange, Kendrick Lamar, and Mac Miller. He collaborates frequently with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Blood Orange, Tyler, the Creator, Kali Uchis, and Ravyn Lenae.

Kari Faux, rapper, producer, and DJ, opened for Lacy with a 30-minute set. Kari Faux DJed to warm up the crowd, playing songs including “Leave Me Alone” by Flipp Dinero and “Praise the Lord” by A$AP Rocky. The crowd was relatively mellow and patient during the short break between acts. Lacy came on after 9pm and performed on a relatively empty stage, set up with a microphone, his guitars, speakers, a MIDI keyboard, and his DJ, Alima. In keeping with Lacy’s DIY approach to music, there was no band playing his music. Alima played Lacy’s tracks from speakers on the stage. The small theater provided the perfect setting for a casual set-up, clear acoustics, and an intimate performance. 

Lacy performed “Apollo XXI” front to back, featuring fan favorites “Only If,” “Playground,” and “N Side.” During “Amandla’s Interlude,” a mostly instrumental track featuring Amandla Stenberg on violin and Lacy on acoustic guitar, Lacy changed out of his pastel pink 70s-inspired suit into an oversized yellow suit, which he wore for the rest of the concert. 

During “Outro Freestyle/4ever,” the last track on “Apollo XXI,” Lacy pointed out his mother and sister enjoying the show from the box seats of the theater. He told fans that the vocals at the end of the song were recorded by his mother and sister, which is typical of Lacy’s distinct, personal style of production. 

After performing all of “Apollo XXI,” Lacy did a semi-acoustic version of his single “C U Girl.” From “Steve Lacy’s Demo,” he performed “Ryd,” “Some,” and “Dark Red.” Because “Dark Red” is one of Lacy’s most well-known songs, he performed it twice for his enthusiastic fans. 

Lacy’s concert left me excited for his future projects, and I look forward to the possibility of him expanding beyond music. Lacy seems to be involved in fashion and streetwear, so it remains to be seen if Lacy will pursue a clothing brand or collaborations within the fashion industry.

Review By: Anna Forsman

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