I drove down to the Observatory on a warm, muggy Friday night. When I got to the venue, I could hear music coming from the opened doors. At the box office, the service rep with a confused look in his face told me that Rich Chigga was playing. Steve Lacy wasn’t until Monday.
Needless to say, I had to Russian Doll this drive to the Observatory again until I learned how to write dates down properly.
Thankfully, the second time around went a lot more smoothly. I drove down to the Observatory on a cold, dry Monday night. When I get to the venue, I heard music coming from the opened door. At the box office, the service rep, with an amused look on his face, recognized me from a few nights before. This time Steve Lacy was performing.
“I can see your faces when you don’t have an iPhone to mine,” Lacy said smoothly. “Let’s connect.” He came out in a purple long sleeve and matching purple pants with his cornrows neatly styled. Behind him was a big stack of Orange amplifiers (the brand and the color) that contrasted his outfit. To Lacy’s right, his DJ (DJ Alema) donned a shiny silver jacket.
Throughout the venue, there were flyers posted with the statement: “SHOW ME YOUR FACE ! … NOT YOUR PHONE 🙂 No cellphone use during the show (PHOTO AND VIDEO). Let’s experience it live (IRL) … AND DANCE!!!” For the most part, the audience was surprisingly restrained with their phone use. The usually phone-lit concert crowd was dark, although there were a few stragglers who did use their phones and the security didn’t seem to enforce the rule.
Lacy played several instruments throughout his set, including the bass, a synth and a guitar. He started off on guitar, shredding some serious solo notes on “Lay Me Down.” He later went on a serious slapping the bass sesh for the bass-heavy “Guide.” He toyed with the crowd by slapping thick notes saturated in reverb, shaking the whole venue with sound. He ended the song with an impromptu bass solo.
During the song break, he incorrectly said, “Hello, San Diego” instead of Santa Ana. This might have been a joke, but I don’t think it was. Regardless, the concert was so good to my ears (and everyone else’s), it didn’t matter.
“So many phones. I promise you I’m not going to do anything special. I would like to see your face,” Lacy joked before launching to the steamy “In Lust We Trust.”
He went through a few more tracks, changing up between guitar, bass and synth. For “Hate CD,” he performed an extended synth intro, playing with peeps and plops, messing with the wave function to create an otherworldly feel.
“I’m in a relationship with myself right now,” Lacy said to the crowd’s screams. He left the stage while soloing on the guitar. DJ Alema smoothly transitioned an interlude beat while, presumably, Lacy took a break. Lacy returned in an oversized red robe.
“I pulled with Gucci pantyhose today,” he announced as he picked up his robe to show the crowd. Everyone in the crowd swooned and screamed.
Although it seemed as if it was going to be a solo affair, Lacy had a few surprises up his robe (other than his Gucci pantyhose). He brought out a huge seven-piece choir to help him perform “4ever.”
“You can’t just be thinking about sex when you look at me. There’s more to me than these Gucci pantyhose,” Lacy said. He began “4ever” by producing a big wall of sound. One of the singers is his mother, whom he introduced when the song ended.
“I just want to thank you for supporting my son,” Valeria Lacy said after the song ended. “You guys are one of the best crowds.”
Lacy put his mother on the spot by asking her to tell a joke to the audience. Although not the most original, she went with the classic orange-you-glad-I-didn’t-say-banana-again joke.
To this point, Lacy played Apollo XXI in full and a few tracks off of Demo. To everyone’s surprise, he graced us with new material, including a dance-y trap song he referred to as “Diamonds on My Neck.”
“You better dance. If I feel it’s awkward I’m going home,” Lacy joked before he started the song. A typical trap song in structure and lyrics, it was very catchy and threw the crowd into a jump stupor.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Lacy said after the song ended. “This guitar nigga making trap?”
After a few more songs, the show felt as if it had ended. In the middle of performing “Ryd,” Lacy said, “I hope my house doesn’t burn down today,” a stark reminder of the outside world seeping into this temporary fantasy space. “If you live in the valley, I hope you have fire insurance.”