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has tiktok destroyed the concert experience?
from the pov of a black avid concert attendee
if you’ve been on twitter this week (also assuming you clicked onto this newsletter for a reason), then you’ve seen this video of steve lacy’s forgetful fans butchering the second verse of his hit single “bad habit” during his give you the world tour.
“let’s do the second verse, c’mon,” lacy said into the mic as he directed it toward fans. while the crowd stopped recording and embarrassingly started idly standing there, one brave soul was heard saying “idk babes, idk sorry.”
he chuckled into the mic, and i’m assuming he moved forward to the next song, but it was clear that his feelings may have been hurt.
i’m not just projecting feelings of disappointment onto steve lacy, because i wasn’t there. however, i did attend his show in boston last week, and i can tell that he’s a fan of an engaging crowd.
so with my somewhat expertise on steve’s live performances from the handful of times that i’ve seen him live, i’ve got to say that i’m definitely placing my disappointment on the crowd.
last year, i created a tiktok about the concert experience while being black, and it went viral with many other black concert attendees explaining their nightmare scenarios at music venues/festivals. i received a lot of feedback from the comment section, including black people mentioning the amount of white people that consume hip-hop/rap/other traditionally black genres of music and how they’re often able to afford/be in close proximity to attend live shows.
someone commented, “something about performing to an all-white audience where it’s clear they see you as a form of entertainment and not a person is very frustrating.”
after incredibly white audiences repeatedly disrespect black artists like kid cudi, doja cat, and megan thee stallion, i’ve commented a similar thought to this way too many times.
as i expected, steve’s show (in boston) did have a primarily white audience, and that’s unsurprising due to boston’s residents but also his incredibly new fanbase.
back in the day — referring to the sweet, sweet year of 2015 — the internet released their third album, ego death. alongside my king of r&b (syd), matt martians, patrick paige II, and christopher smith, i was introduced to their young guitarist, steve lacy. two of his (very slayworthy) singles were released that year, but i didn’t really start listening to his solo projects until the steve lacy demo in 2017. it was comprised of six, sexy, smooth songs that didn’t even reach a total of 14 minutes. iykyk! eventually, my world actually changed when apollo xxi was released in 2019.
i’m not one to gatekeep an underrated musician, since i know the social growth of an artist inherently benefits them in the long run. but damn! i can’t believe apollo xxi or the lo-fis weren’t the projects that would’ve gotten steve this recognition.
i don’t want to credit tiktok for the destruction of the music industry and the live concert experience, plus there’s a lot of other black creators that have also spoken about this that are more knowledgeable on the topic. (see pablo the don, hennyondatweet, and daric l. cottingham) however, from my personal experience as a superficial music listener, frequent concertgoer, A1 since day 1 beyhive member, and the bitch who will remind you about their superior music taste, i would like to say a few things.
for mainstream black male artists, they tend to have pretty toxic, (often, clueless) white audiences at their live performances. i don’t think it’s fair for me to generalize that these well-known black male musicians (i.e. kendrick lamar, baby keem, travis scott, steve lacy, the weeknd, childish gambino, etc.) have predominantly white audiences, but that’s unfortunately who i spot in the crowds during their tours. i mean, there’s obviously black fans for these artists, but *cue tiktok audio* “i keep hearing my people, but i’m not seeing my people.”
maybe i’m losing the main point of this newsletter post and reaching, but i fear that a decent point of the frustration and disappointment revolving around steve’s newfound fan base (via the clock app) is related to how white audiences often don’t respect black artists.
i’d also be frustrated and disappointed if i was an avid listener to steve lacy and missed out on his (originally $35) tour tickets due to fans that can’t even sing the second verse of his hit song!
i’m happy that steve is finally receiving his flowers, but i beg of y’all to actually listen to the album. there’s a larger conversation here about respecting an artist at their show and the definition of a “real fan,” but it’s not my time to break it down.
also fuck resellers! there’s no reason why his venues that hold six people and a bag of air (keyon’s words, not mine) should have a sole ticket selling for $100+ for a nearly two hour show. y’all have truly lost it!
unfortunately, this is going to keep happening as long as tiktok exists, so kiss your favorite artist goodbye! (jk, kinda) it’s happened to mitski, phoebe bridgers, and i’m witnessing it happen to omar apollo now. you’ll blink, and they’ll suddenly be selling tickets to a sold-out stadium tour.
disclaimer: i would like to say that the boston show on steve’s give you the world tour was very fun, and *hopefully* what happened in the viral video on tour is not happening at other tour stops.
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