It seems like Steve Lacy floats through his life with luck on his side. How else could such fortuitous circumstances grace him? He joined The Internet at the age of 15, earned producer credits on their grammy-nominated Ego Death, and made a hit demo tape entirely on his iPhone, using GarageBand. When I saw him at the Apollo Theater on October 5, I saw this humble, accidental genius show off how much of a go-with-the-flow person he is.
I was discouraged when I walked in the venue and didn’t see a live set-up on stage, but I trusted him and his DJ to put on a good show without many live instruments. It was actually kind of fun to see him switch between his dilapidated electric guitar and his glittery bass. He plays with such a messy, jazzy affectation — and his dancing, oh, his dancing. His unpreparedness didn’t matter because his stage presence was so charming. Steve Lacy is the kind of person whose chillness is overwhelming. He’s like neo-funk’s Lebowski. A few times during his set, he stopped mid-lyric to say “Oh shit, I made this shit!” in disbelief. This made it seem like he flows through his life, taking as it comes, with a completely minimized ego devoid of any narcissistic tendencies. At the end of his set, he ran out of songs to play and broke off into a short spiel:
“I guess this is the part where I make a big speech or something. I don’t really have any more songs. Fuck it! Do ‘Dark Red’ again!” gesturing to his DJ.
He inserted a few honorary remarks in his songs about how he feels performing at the legendary Apollo Theater. Pointing up at the mezzanine where his support system was, he thanked his sister, mother and managers for helping him on his journey of self-acceptance. It’s like he never actually takes credit for his greatness; it’s always others who should be paid homage. He acknowledged that he made this music, but with an astonishment that acted as a metric for his humility.
He embodies a mystical atmosphere, one that makes his musical flair seem entirely intrinsic, something he realized without breaking a sweat.
But I guess a part of true artistry is the ability to make things look easy.