Stephen Sanchez Haunts First Avenue


Sometimes you know what you’re getting into when you walk into a show. Usually for the better. Maybe you’ve seen the artist before. Maybe you’ve watched the full set online 12 times while you wait on bated breath for your date to come around (Hi, Swifties). First Avenue was home to nothing of the sort on Thursday night. Because it was MORE. More excitement. More love. More LIGHTS. It had to be more.

I was lucky enough to see Stephen Sanchez in February of this year at Fine Line. I had only heard a few songs, and expected a mellow and pleasant evening. It was anything but that. Fans screamed desperately as he high kicked around stage. His voice is better in person. It was just shy of Beatlemania or videos of kids seeing Elvis shake his hips for the first time. Absolutely captivating. I couldn’t wait for this show to come around!

Of course, in the last 8 months, Sanchez has risen fast. It almost felt like a crime to see him in smaller venues twice – one that I feel so lucky to get away with, as those are truly the best experiences. Fans lined up at 8 a.m. to secure their front-row spot. As someone who has done that for countless shows, I get a little misty seeing the love and dedication. Sanchez riled them up throughout the day teasing them behind the glass of the front doors.

Fans dressed in the 1950s-inspired part. I saw poodle skirts, saddle shoes, suspenders, newsboy caps, and even fur wraps with silk gloves and pearls. It was so much fun to see an all-ages crowd getting in the spirit and looking fabulous doing it. Others made signs and donned pink cowboy hats because you can’t go to a show without pink feathered cowboy hats anymore.

Stephen Day opened the show. His Nashville crooner style fit right in with the fans. He was accompanied by a bassist opposite him and a drummer in the center. They had a blast playing together on stage. The crowd was warm and attentive throughout the blazing 30-minute set.

The crowd lost their minds as the screen lifted to reveal the stage adorned in blinking lightbulb lining, complete with lit drum and keyboard risers. A metallic curtain hung behind with large spotlights around. It felt like seeing Buddy Holly in a local armory or school gym in the most romantic way.

He sauntered onto the stage to thunderous applause. The screaming was unbelievable, but as soon as he began to swing “Something About Her” solo you could hear a pin drop.  It set the tone for the night in such a special way. It felt intimate and gave me a reason to believe that this night would be something to be treasured. The calm didn’t last, though because he went right into “Evangeline” with his band next, and we were off!!

Sanchez kept things hot throughout the 16-song set, which had a storyline. It followed the journey of a troubadour who was performing at the Angel Club in 1964. He told the story as the ghost of the troubadour, having been dead for 59 years. He had fallen in love with Evangeline and had a love for the ages. Unfortunately, Evangeline was the lover of the club owner – a mobster. Once he learned of the affair, the mobster killed him. Evangeline goes mad with heartache. He joked about how hard it is to dance around with the bullet jangling in his chest and that he has been loving the opportunity to haunt venues across the states with the story. It was an honor to be haunted by him.

A cover of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” was an unexpected but fitting piece of the set that really showcased that he truly would have been a contemporary in that time period. “Be More” was one of the best performances I’ve seen all year. It had heart, power, and the whole audience in the palm of Sanchez’s tattooed hand. As he walked up and down the stage, the screaming followed him. He quipped to the audience that he had too much power for one man. Probably, but at least he knows it.

I can’t wait to see what venue he will take on next time around. I can only imagine where his career will go from here. I’ll be watching for a Best New Artist nomination at the Grammy’s next year.


Something About Her


I Need You Most of All

Only Girl

No One Knows

Doesn’t Do Me Any Good

Caught in a Blue

Be More

Oh, Pretty Woman



Death of the Troubadour

Send My Heart With a Kiss

The Pool


Until I Found You