On Oct. 7, Steve Lacy and Kari Faux brought a dance party to Theater of the Living Arts. Steve Lacy, originally from Compton, California, garnered attention for his work with R&B band The Internet and as a producer for a wide range of artists including Kendrick Lamar, Solange, J. Cole, Ravyn Lanae, and Mac Miller. He released his debut EP, Steve Lacy’s Demos, in 2017, and his debut album Apollo XXI this summer. Fusing R&B, rap, rock, funk, hip hop, and pop, Lacy’s music is innovative and inventive; he brought these influences to his performance through everything from the set design to his clothes to his dancing.
Kari Faux, a Little Rock rapper best known for her song “No Small Talk” from the Insecure soundtrack, surprised the crowd by putting on an energetic DJ set. Playing a mix of throwback classics and current hits, Faux warmed up the audience and got them dancing. Although it was disappointing she didn’t perform any of her original songs, she still showed off her good ear for music with the carefully curated mixing and pairing of songs in her DJ set. Having as much fun herself as anyone else, she set the tone for a communal atmosphere that would dictate the rest of the night, matching Lacy’s conversational and interactive performance style. Although the songs were all upbeat, her set exuded a coolness that transitioned effortlessly into Lacy’s set.
As soon as he walked on stage, the crowd changed. Despite being a relative newcomer as a solo artist, he has already gathered a devoted and enthusiastic fanbase. At one point, he noticed a fan near the front waving a small object at him. He stopped talking to ask her to throw it to him and she did. It was a small painting of the Apollo XXI cover, for which he seemed genuinely grateful.
Lacy himself admitted that he was nervous and feeling low–energy that night, but the crowd’s passion helped to elevate his mood a bit. His performance was still interesting and unique. In a way, it felt like being transported back to the late 1970s with touches of modern style and culture mixed in. He wore a pink matching shirt–pants set and later changed into a tie dyed shirt and high top sneakers.
A blending of the old and the new, the performance exemplified the best of a new generation of multi–hyphenate, genre–defying artists. Lacy switched between playing guitar, a pink sparkly bass, and synths, all while singing, further illustrating his breadth of talents. He played through most of his nascent discography, satisfying the crowd with all they wanted to hear. It’s clear that Lacy has room to grow as a performer—he seemed somewhat uncomfortable in the spotlight. However, he has shown enough promise to keep me excited about what he has in store.