Sometimes there are certain artists who show up on your radar that make you realize that you’ve done yourself a grave disservice by not forcing yourself to find out about them sooner than you did. That is exactly how I feel about Antwaun Stanley. I 100% wish I knew about him back in my early 20’s when I used to spend some time in Michigan. Having been exposed to his artistry during my first Vulfpeck show years ago, I vowed to never pass up the chance to see him perform again. So when he announced a handful of solo shows, I jumped at the chance to see what he had to offer without the Vulfpeck guys in tow.
Opening the evening, Habe, an NYC based singer/songwriter/producer took to Mercury Lounge’s stage, welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd eager to hear what he had to offer. Admittedly nervous, it took him a while to settle into the feeling of the night, but when he did, his smooth, soulful sound and effortlessly playful banter got us all off to a fantastic start. Performing a few selections from his upcoming album titled Here, Look, he gave us all a fitting introduction to what we can expect – chill vibes that make you feel like you’re floating on a breeze.
But the laid-back vibes quickly did an about face when Antwaun took the stage. Joined only by Jon Notar on keys, who Antwaun had only met a short time before this performance, they proceeded to put on what was in my honest opinion “THE SHOW” to be at on Saturday night. I doubt there was any other room in NYC that had as much fun as everyone in the building and with the amount of venues in NYC, that’s a huge compliment. Hearing Antwaun run through songs from his multiple collaborations with a plethora of artists throughout the years was an absolute treat for all of the senses. Favorites include Vulfpeck songs, “1612,” “Wait For the Moment,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” and “Lost In Translation,” from his EP with Tyler Duncan called Ascension, released in 2021.
One thing to know about an Antwaun Stanley show before you go – the crowd is going to deliver musically. It’s just a simple fact. I’m pretty sure 85% of that crowd could truly sing judging by the harmonies that burst forth each time he held the mic to the crowd. You’re going to get all the hand-claps, ad libs, and call & response moments you could have ever dreamed of, with no coaxing needed. Antwaun’s flowing stage presence and infectious charisma was so all-encompassing that this show seemed to fly by far too fast, and when he mentioned he was nervous that no one would come out to see him solo, I was so shocked. Who in their right mind would miss this? Even if you weren’t familiar with any of Antwaun’s work, you were guaranteed to enjoy yourself, I can confidently make that claim.
The fun collaboration of the night didn’t end with just crowd participation. Hannah Winkler and Sammy Rae joined Antwaun onstage to perform a few songs with him, both outstanding vocalists in their own right. Plus, when holding the mic out for people to sing during a cover of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” a vocalist named Desmond Roberts sang a run that was so impressive, everyone exploded into cheers and applause and Antwaun invited him onstage to close out the show.
If you’ve reached the end of this article, one thing should be abundantly clear by now. If you have the chance to see an Antwaun Stanley performance, no matter how much or little he may be involved, take it. You will have plenty of chances during his run through Europe with Cory Wong, and then an 8 show run in November with Vulfpeck. DO NOT MISS IT.
Article/Images: Lesley Keller