Kirana Wanandi / Gavel Media

Steve Lacy's Erratic Outbursts in Concert: Explained

In his most recent Give You The World Tour, Steve Lacy has gained viral attention for his turbulent interactions with fans while on stage. Venue after venue, videos of his disappointment and anger at fans' behavior surface on TikTok. Cutting songs short, throwing cameras, and telling fans to “be quiet” are now all-too-normal aspects of the practically sold-out tour. Years before, however, Lacy played to much smaller audiences with a vivacity that could fill an entire stadium. Now at his commercial peak, Lacy’s new media-obsessed crowd is in stark contrast to his OG target audience. 

Before songs like “Bad Habit” and “Dark Red” gained popularity, Lacy’s audience was much smaller and more counter-cultural than the current concert attendees. Lacy has been open about his queer identity and his struggle to accept himself. Coming from an extremely religious household, Lacy’s queer identity was repressed and he had difficulty coming to terms with it. Songs such as “Like Me” very evidently deal with issues of coming out and queer acceptance. These songs found an audience who could connect with the counter-cultural and non-normative themes. 

That being said, Lacy’s demographics have undergone an enormous shift in the past 4 years. Since 2018 his playlist outreach jumped from 4 million to 220 million as of this year. Seeing as Lacy hasn’t toured since Apollo XXI in 2019, this most recent tour has been an extreme testament to his enormous popularity growth. 

His new fanbase is majority due to the app TikTok. Minute-long clips of his songs have gone viral on the app, with “Bad Habit” racking up 500,000 videos and “Dark Red” with 100,000. For most of the crowd at his concerts, TikTok was their one and only introduction to Lacy. Most people aren’t even familiar with the second half of these songs, much less the rest of his discography. Multiple videos have surfaced of the crowd participation stopping almost completely after the first verse of his most popular songs. 

TikTok has completely and whole-heartedly changed the music industry, especially for live performances. People are going to concerts not to see their favorite artist but to see their favorite TikTok sound live. For many, concerts are a safe and selective space for people with the same ideals to come together. This is especially true for fanbases that form themselves outside of societal norms and who find solace in counter-cultures. 

On the other hand, Lacy’s behavior seems a bit extreme, as smashing cameras and snapping at fans aren’t typical of any artist. The people at these concerts paid money to be there, with some even paying up to $400. Times are changing, and this includes concert cultures. Artists like Harry Styles who rely much more on fan participation for entertainment rather than stage presence have normalized a culture where fans think it is their concert too. The power that social media has given to this generation has evened the playing field between audience and performer. Any audience member can post about their “bad experience” at a concert and in seconds it could go viral. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it's acceptable for a fan to demand attention at an artist's show. The musician is still the artist performing their art and it is the audience’s responsibility to respect the performer’s time and art. This might mean working harder to understand the culture of the concert you are going to. Harry Styles very clearly has different expectations for fans than Steve Lacy. But it's also in the best interest of the artist to work with fans in concert and make the experience meaningful and enjoyable for everyone there. 

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