Bad Habits Pay Off
Written by Mar Kourouma on November 23, 2022
Steve Lacy @ The Greek Theatre [11/11/2022]
Photos by Audrey Berry
“Damn, my nipples are hard right now!”
These words were spoken by one of the world’s hottest artists right now as he stood in front of the sold-out Greek Theater on Saturday night. On this brisk evening, it is Steve Lacy’s final show of the highly anticipated “Give You The World” tour supporting his sophomore studio album, Gemini Rights.
Tickets for the tour were highly coveted as seats sold out nearly instantly. It felt like an honor to have been standing in line with thousands of others who had won the battle against the infamous Ticketmaster queue. Inside the venue, it seemed as though everywhere you turned there was someone dressed in Steve’s now iconic Gemini uniform featuring black leather pants, a white button-down with an “S” painted on the front, and a black tie. Cameras and sets could be found at every corner filming the ecstatic fans to be broadcast on Amazon Music’s Twitch channel where the homecoming event was live-streamed. Many of Lacy’s earliest musical collaborators were present in the crowd with the entirety of the 2011 R&B band, The Internet, making an appearance along with the pop star’s family members.
At 8:00 PM sharp the lights shifted to a swirl of deep shades of purple and blue to welcome Fousheé to the stage. The up-and-coming R&B/Soul artist jumped straight into performing songs from her newest project softCORE. The headbanging worthy melodies were a stark contrast to Steve’s classic silky sonic sound, but the crowd matched her energy instantly. Fousheé’s ability to liven up an already euphoric crowd was nothing short of impressive and her presence was instantly missed after her opener slot was complete.
As the lights in the stadium dimmed once more and the only light source left was the waning gibbous moon, 6,000 eager fans awaiting Steve’s arrival began chanting his name in unison. As the eighteen-piece orchestra on the stage began to play a tune reminiscent of a romantic overture, it seemed as if every iPhone in the perimeter was recording the action on stage waiting to capture his arrival. His band members clad in the Gemini uniform joined the orchestra on stage to layer the instrumental performance. The stadium filled with the rapturous screams of Lacy’s obsessives as the 24-year-old Compton native stepped out on stage in between the larger-than-life silver set piece inspired by the album’s cover art. The confidence in his strides to centerstage was unmatched and although he spoke about his extreme nerves throughout the hour-long set, it appeared as if this was the moment he was waiting for his entire life.
Instead of beginning his set with the obvious choice of his top hit Bad Habit, he jumps into action with the dramatic opening chords of the fourth track off the LP, Buttons. It made for a powerful kick-off to the show as the song’s electric ramp-up supported by the orchestra’s flourishing sound perfectly encapsulates the core themes of the album: youthful yearning and reflection. He is quick to address the crowd and set the tone for the evening after the opening by exclaiming, “I’m all about the drama tonight!”. After a quick switch from an electric to acoustic guitar, Lacy began to groove to Mercury. The set featured a generous feature from each of his projects since the start of his career including picks from his debut full-length album, Apollo XXI. Once Lacy decides to jump back into tracks off of his most recent body of work, he hands off the performance to the audience in front of him by asking for help “proving he has fans”. The audience took the instructions to heart as the entire theater screamed the lyrics to Static back at the artist.
There was a motif of casual jabs at the backlash Lacy has been facing throughout the tour amidst his rise to stardom. With the help of the TikTok algorithm, the artist was catapulted into fame on an international level, causing scrutiny by old and new fans. The instant selling out of his shows lead to intense online discourse about the validity of his fans now that he is considered “mainstream”. This culminated in an incident at his New Orleans stop of the tour where he smashed a fan’s disposable camera on the ground after it had been thrown on stage. While he had already addressed the situation on social media prior to the continuation of his tour, he made sure to lightheartedly bring it up during the LA show as he joked about destroying another camera.
He would be remiss to not include nods to some of his earliest hit singles from his GarageBand production days. The most notable of the few played was Steve’s lush orchestral rendition of C U Girl. Fousheé rejoined Steve onstage for their toxic relationship anthem off the album, Sunshine. Watching the both of them perform together is a captivating experience as it is difficult to find a duo that reciprocates each other’s energies so fervently. The collaborators invited the crowd to clap along to the soulful guitar bridge before enjoying a mini-dance party on stage ending in the friends falling to the ground.
His final song brought a justifiable change in lighting as he was consumed by overwhelming red lights to deliver the song that started his solo career, Dark Red. This extended version accommodated his send-off as he thanked each member of his tour production team. The reminisce of his groovy bass lines and funk-soul fusion tunes were ringing in the air as he walked off the stage. There was a specific sense of post-concert melancholy as all of us shuffled out of the theater, knowing that this was a definitive end to the Gemini Rights era, but left us all excited to see where Steve Lacy’s bad habits will bring him next.