Stephen Sanchez: Live

Artist’s first national tour stops in Chicago


Stephen Sanchez dances on stage on Feb. 25 at a sold-out concert at Lincoln Hall (Mardegan/LION).

Jeanne Mardegan, News Editor, Web Editor

Two men run past the line outside Lincoln Hall as the security guard checks out my bag before letting me in the venue. My body goes numb as I realize one of the men is none other than Stephen Sanchez, the main act of the concert I’m attending on this evening, Feb. 25. 

Before reentering the venue so that he can prepare for the show that he’s meant to go on for in roughly two hours, Sanchez approaches me with a grinning, “Hello!” and I shake his hand before he pulls me into a hug. All I can say is “Hi, I love you” and he says the phrase back before running into the venue, leaving me to nearly faint into my friend’s arms. After my moment of being absolutely starstruck, I knew I was in for a great show.

The 20-year-old singer gained popularity in 2021 after releasing his 1950s-inspired hit love song, “Until I Found You” on all music streaming platforms. In the fall of last year, Sanchez announced his first national tour and I jumped to purchase a ticket, which was only $20 for general admission. At the Lincoln Park venue, I arrived a little before doors open at 7 p.m. and had a nice, fairly close view of the performance. Purchasing my merchandise right as I entered the building, I went for a $60 crew neck with an awesome light purple graphic of Sanchez on the front. The storefront had a small variety of shirts, sweatshirts, and a tote bag with prices ranging from $20 to $60. 

Sanchez has two openers lined up for his tour, and I saw Kings Elliot on her second to last night of performing. Elliot is a UK-based singer whose songs reflected sadder themes and slower rhythms. Although I had never heard of her prior to the tour announcement, I still enjoyed her set. Fans could tell how grateful she was to be up on stage and she did a nice job of warming us up for Sanchez.

A little after 9 p.m., the band appeared on stage and the crowd went wild as Sanchez made his grand entrance to the stage singing “Hey Girl,” which is the opening song on his 2022 debut album, “Easy on My Eyes.” He played a variety of songs off of this album, as well as his 2021 EP “What Was, Not Now,” including my favorite song of the evening, “The Pool.” Sanchez was an incredibly charismatic performer and his live vocals sound identical to the recordings. Since he’s a fairly newer artist with a smaller discography, I was a bit let down by the fairly short setlist that didn’t include some of my favorites, such as “Love Life.” However, it was a great set that highlighted the “hopeless romantic” themes that Sanchez is often singing about.

Halfway through the set, Sanchez’s stellar band left him alone to play some tracks acoustically. He began a monologue, sharing that the tune he was about to perform was unreleased and would probably never be recorded professionally, which made the crowd excited to be let in on somewhat of a musical secret with the star himself. Sanchez grew flustered, darting his eye contact upwards often at Kings Elliot on the balcony to reveal that the song was written for none other than his opener, whom he had fallen deeply in love with during their time on tour together. The moments in which Sanchez shared his feelings and vulnerabilities with the crowd was something that I’ve never experienced at a show before and I was in utter shock that I had been witnessing a movie-like event before my eyes. “Stay” expressed how he was going to miss Elliot once she left the tour, and was followed by the story of the night he fell for her with a cover of “Unchained Melody.” It was truly so special to be at the Chicago show during this section of the performance and something I’ll never forget.

“Until I Found You” was the song that brought me to Sanchez’s music and hearing it live was truly an out-of-body experience. He surprised me when it came to the second verse and he started singing the remix lyrics, written by artist Em Beihold, that was released last year. The duet version of the song has gone viral on TikTok in recent months, specifically Beihold’s verse, thus it was a pleasant shock to the crowd to hear Sanchez take on her part. The night closed out with an unreleased song titled “Amy and Mary” that had me bouncing up and down to match the energy of the room as the performance clocked out around 10:30 p.m. 

I left Lincoln Hall in utter disbelief of all that had occurred to me in the evening. From meeting one of my favorite singers to watching him confess his love on stage, it truly was an evening I’ll never forget. Sanchez is an artist that I see on an uphill trajectory in upcoming years and I can’t wait to see him on stage again.


Rating: 4.9/5 Paws