At just 24 years old, the Compton, Calif. native has quickly proven himself to be a bard of young love, telling tales of kisses and breakups to silky sounds that would feel right at home any time during the last half century. His instantly timeless songs cross the funk-soul fraternity, with walking bass lines, loud chords, a percussive punch and a vocal tone that drips with Cali cool. On the mic, he slips effortlessly into a falsetto voice that can seduce or shatter glass, depending on the moment.
Lacy’s latest album, “Gemini Rights,” is the fullest expression of his artistry to date, and he performed almost all of it on Saturday, along with highlights from 2019’s “Apollo XXI” and a album of demos that were recorded – like many of his early productions – through a rigged guitar board on an iPhone. In concert, his DIY songs were full of life, with each additional fill, lick or solo pulling them further from his phone.
Lacy is the latest in a line of supernaturally gifted and prematurely accomplished talents, like Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, who established himself behind the board and in the studio before making waves on his own. Like many of his peers, he seems to have grown up on the works of “The Love Below” by Pharrell Williams and André 3000, but seems poised to outdo his teachers.
On Saturday, Lacy looked cool and comfortable in the spotlight, with wraparound braids and shades that connected the stylistic dots with Stevie Wonder, another songwriting prodigy that was grounded in young life. But he also seemed hesitant to accept public adulation, even one who bought all the tickets long before he topped Billboard. As in his songs, is love real?
Even grappling with her newfound fame, Lacy watched over her fans, asking people to step away from the stage and take an extended break late into the night, so dazed revelers could get water or be evacuated. . (The Astroworld tragedy is less than a year away in the rearview mirror, after all.) The break picked up the momentum, but “Bad Habit” and an encore of crowd favorites put the night away — and the Lacy’s future – in perspective.
“I feel like everything is changing right now,” he told the crowd. “I’m glad you’re here to witness this change with me.”