Stephen Sanchez finally returned home to Nashville to play Brooklyn Bowl surrounded by his closest friends and biggest fans. Stephen’s velvety vocals took everyone in the venue on a journey through flirtation, love, and passion. The twenty-year-old's music is lyrically gorgeous, romanticizing the mundane and creating vivid scenes of love. The entire performance felt intimate, especially when he made eye contact with fans and seemed to sing directly to each individual in the sold-out crowd. His sound is reminiscent of 50s love ballads, drawing influence from the likes of Elvis and The Platters. While he typically plays acoustically, Stephen brought a full band on his first tour, infusing each song with unique electricity. They played off each other well, clearly great friends who enjoy playing and dancing together each night. However, Stephen’s persona is so captivating that it is hard to focus on anyone else onstage but him.
Before Stephen took the stage, Kings Elliot performed and gave a hauntingly beautiful performance. Each of her songs was devastatingly sad but also spoke to realities that many struggle to put into words. With songs about mental health, not fitting in, and other deeply personal experiences, Kings Elliot’s incredible voice brought each song to life. She was a gripping performer who captured the crowd's attention for her entire set, not just because of her unmistakable bright blue hair. Experiencing her live performance of the song “Lost Again” was a definite high, with the thud of the bass contradicting her delicate tone and creating magic. Kings Elliot’s music is desolate and sad, setting the perfect stage for Stephen to follow and bring some much-needed romanticism and hope.
From the moment he ran onstage, Stephen Sanchez exuded a goofy confidence. He spoke in funny voices in between singing about love with the maturity one would not expect at just twenty years old. Songs such as “Evangeline” and “The Pool” drew out a sultry crooner who was jumping around the stage and leaping onto the drums like a true rockstar. The crowd absorbed his spirit, jumping around and feeding right back into his endless energy. While these moments in the show were magnetic, he also showcased his versatility as a performer with “Lady by The Sea.” There was just a spotlight on him and his guitar as he asked for crowd participation and had a great time belting out his first single. This special moment will certainly stick with all who were blessed to witness it. His connection with music creates a comforting atmosphere, no matter what song it is. Stephen’s performance was filled with contradictions: silly and sensual, soft and powerful, youthful and wise. It was these contradictions that created a beautifully entertaining show. Without a doubt, the most special moment of the entire show was during the song “Please Don’t Go Home Yet,” when a sweet fan project brought the singer to tears. As he sang the words “I don’t want to go home yet,” the first few rows of the crowd held up signs that said “Please don’t go home yet. [Name] wants you to stay.” The personalization of each sign and the dedication to making their favorite artist feel special were touching. The joyful surprise on his face was lovely, showing that the relationship between artist and fan runs deeper than many may realize. Stephen Sanchez’s fans were kind, excited to be there, and filled with passion for his irresistible charm and enthralling lyricism. Many had waited in line all day, waiting for an artist they believe in so deeply.
- Abby Jester
Photos courtesy of Kylie Hoover (for Bell Music Magazine)

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