Chicago – On Tuesday, London EDM producer and musician SG Lewis made his first appearance in the Windy City, where he performed at Beat Kitchen. The twenty-one year-old was fresh off his first weekend of Coachella. So fresh, his tour manager was still wearing his festival wristband! It was interesting to see a dance show taking place at the usually dark venue because it tends to host all-ages punk shows… It was also interesting to see an abundant supply of glowing, neon wristbands, instead of the usual sea of right hands covered with a black “X,” scribbled on with Sharpies, signifying those who are not yet twenty-one.
Lewis smiled and shouted, “It’s my first time in Chicago!” The room filled with applause thanks to his excited fans. The moment the Englishman picked up his bass and started in on the keys and synths, recording loops, fans pulled out their phones to document it all, while singing along and dancing to the beats. For someone making their first visit to Chicago, it was definitely impressive to see the audience so in synch. Lewis seemed to blush during “All Night,” when he looked up and saw everyone grooving. In January SG Lewis released the soulful single, which features R&B singer Dornik.
It was also impressive to see SG Lewis performing by himself. Lewis told fans, ”Bringing a whole band out is expensive, especially with getting visas, so I’m doing this all on my own. Let’s see how it goes.” Given the crowd reaction, I say it went really well. Lewis played the guitar, bass, keys, and drums. He even sang occasionally. He was a powerful one man show, comparable to Robert DeLong and Max Frost. Lewis played “No Less,” off his EP Shivers. He also performed the hypnotic single “The Masque” and a couple of new songs: “Meant To Be” and “Holding Back.” While chatting with fans, Lewis said he has an EP coming out soon and is currently working on his debut LP. It’s a safe bet both ”Meant To Be” and “Holding Back” will be on his upcoming EP.
Fans swayed back and forth and sang along to “Shivers.” Lewis was without JP Cooper – who adds vocals to the track – but he managed to keep the song going, partially thanks to those in the crowd singing, but mainly because of his keyboard playing. He carefully watched his keys – though, a couple of times he closed his eyes, while biting his bottom lip, when he seemed to really feel the music – hitting the notes with precision. “Shivers” is one of Lewis’ songs that sets him aside from most EDM artists. Like James Blake, Låpsley, or Ellie Goulding, who mix different genres, like pop or R&B, with electronica, SG Lewis transcends dance music… and he does so with much pleasantry. I could not get over how nice and humble he was. Over and over, Lewis flashed his endearing smile and thanked the audience. He seemed overwhelmed by the adoration he was witnessing, when he gleefully exclaimed, “You guys are fucking awesome!” But Lewis was equally awesome. After the show, he spent nearly an hour talking with fans and posing for photos.
Lewis attempted to end his set with “Warm” – the single that accumulated over 4 million Spotify plays and hit #4 on the Spotify Viral Chart – when he left the stage. People loudly chanted, “One more song.” He soon came back out and joked that he went into the cupboard, not back stage (he walked into a closet instead of down the stairs at the front of the stage, which is the only out), so as he found his way back onto the stage, he figured he might as well play another, even though he hadn’t prepared for an encore because he thought people wouldn’t like him. Boy, was he wrong! It was a total love fest inside the Beat Kitchen.
SG Lewis is on tour now. A list of tour dates can be found on his Facebook page. Shivers and “All Night” are available for purchase on iTunes.
Photography by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.