As Steve Lacy walked out on stage at O2 Kentish Town for the last leg of his Apollo XXI tour, the rapture of the crowd took him by surprise. Singer and guitarist for The Internet – an offshoot of the Odd Future collective – Lacy is no stranger to a large audience. Yet, his first tour as a solo artist was bound to provoke some anxieties which he did not refrain from vocalising to the crowd. However, his fears proved to be unfounded: the crowd was with him every step of the way, swaying to his ballads, bopping to his groovy basslines and jumping to his high-energy – albeit questionable – raps.
Lacy’s versatility as an artist is indisputable in his latest album, which he performed in full on Friday night. He effortlessly commanded the attention of the audience through his stripped-back vocals, guitar solos and infectious dance moves. ‘Like Me’ is a particularly multidimensional, three-part song touching on his bisexuality, with the repetitive chorus “How many out there just like me?” almost a subtle cry for validation from his listeners. The funkiness of ‘Playground’ – the following song – feels like a complete opposite to the previous, reminiscent of the work of Thundercat, who he cites as one of his greatest inspirations. Lacy utilised ‘Amanda’s Interlude’ to pull off a cheeky outfit change into a neon yellow, furry and weirdly sexy cow-print jumpsuit, before jumping straight into the album’s most famous tune ‘N Side’, much to the crowd’s delight.
It’s difficult to believe that Lacy is only 21 years old with his impressive record of producing music for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller and Solange and a nomination for Best Contemporary Urban Album at the upcoming Grammys. Announcing his Grammy nomination in an Instagram post, he wrote “I don’t do this shit for awards” but it was difficult for him to remain humble when the entire crowd erupted into cheers, applause and stomping – not stopping for a good few minutes – after he mentioned it at the gig. Lacy continued to remind us to put away our phones and just enjoy the music, but it was hard to resist when he threw it back with some of his older, better known songs from his 2017 EP. A slowed down version of ‘C U Girl’ was a particular highlight for me, and when he rounded off the night with ‘Dark Red’ – his most popular song – the crowd was in hysterics, singing every single word without fail.
Friday night showed me just how far Lacy has come since I last saw him with The Internet at Lovebox 2018. Back then, his performance of ‘Dark Red’ was lost on the crowd, whose attention was on the band as a whole. Yet the Apollo XXI tour is testament to his brilliance as an artist in his own right, making a name for himself beyond his affiliation with The Internet.
Edited by Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor