Iron City featured some time-traveling ghosts on Wednesday as Stephen Sanchez and the Moon Crests came down for the second time this year. This is Sanchez’s first appearance in Birmingham since his new album, Angel Face, was released in September. Sanchez was supported by modern day crooner, Stephen Day.
The 21-year-old pop-rock artist has already garnered a strong fanbase. Fans were lined down the block waiting to pack Iron City out. By the time of the show, there was not much room to stand as fans were covering every square inch of the pit. Sanchez’s 50s aesthetic has infected his fanbase as half the audience looked like extras off of Grease.
The men in the audience sleeked their hair back and put on their best leather jacket. Female fans wore rockabilly dresses, bandanas, and heels. Even the pre-show playlist was 50s inspired, with classic songs like “Sh-Boom” by The Chords, “Sleepwalk” by Santo and Johnny, and “My Girl” by The Temptations getting the crowd ready for a shindig.
At 8:00 P.M., Stephen Day hit the stage. With just a bass, drums and Day himself on guitar, the band was able to fill the room with their sound. Day was dressed in a bowling short with a tank top underneath. His mustache and sideburns made him look like the classic country stars of old.
Day had great energy throughout his opening set. Garnishing a smile, the band’s sound was a fusion of pop and funk. Some highlights were the harmonies on “Kinda Cowgirl” and Day playing an unreleased song, “Goldmine.” By the end, the band had the whole crowd singing the chorus.
This was my first introduction to Stephen Day, and I was impressed. His strong voice, groovy instrumentals and sentimental lyrics are a great combination for success. If he rolls back to Alabama again, I would love to see what he could do with a headlining set. He also paired really well with Sanchez’s music and aesthetic.
At 9:15 P.M., Stephen Sanchez and the Moon Crests arrived. Smoke filled the stage as a narrator explained the story that was about to unfold. The show followed the narrative of Angel Face, where a young troubadour plays in a club called the Angel. He falls in love with a girl named Evangeline, but she’s the girlfriend of a mob boss named Hunter.
Sanchez sleeked back his hair and wore high-waisted pants, a tank top and a letterman jacket on stage. The Moon Crests all wore black suits and ties. As the show went on, the drummer slowly lost more of his clothes, eventually just wearing a white button-down and pants.
The set started with “Something About Her,” with only Sanchez’s shadow showing throughout the tune. It was an interesting choice to start because it’s a slow and sentimental song. He then immediately went into some more rocking tunes with “Evangeline” and “Only Girl.”
Sanchez was quite the entertainer throughout the show. He danced around the stage like a modern-day Elvis. The crowd ate up every movement and note that he gave out. Sanchez let the Moon Crests play for most of the set, only pulling out a guitar on certain songs.
The energy throughout the show was off the charts. Sanchez often interacted with the audience and members of the Moon Crests. He jumped on piano for part of “Shake” and sang happy birthday for a few members of the audience. Sanchez tried to stay in the character of the troubadour for most of the show, but his personality would crack out as the audience would cheer and scream. At one point, his fans were chanting for him to take off his jacket.
Some highlights from the show include a Moon Crests member guitar solo on “Doesn’t Do Me No Good,” the crowd serenading Sanchez with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the band having various items thrown onto the stage at the end of the show and Sanchez performing a new song called “Fame and Fortune.” This song was the only song he played acoustically and was full of emotion. Sanchez sang “I’d rather die than leave you here tonight,” getting choked up as he sang for his significant other.
Sanchez stuck to mainly Angel Face for the show, only playing one cover and two songs from his former EPs. Sanchez ended the night with his biggest song, “Until I Found You.” The crowd became unglued when the first note hit, with fans jumping up and down. The audience knew every word and sung them back to Sanchez. The show ended with one last refrain of the song as the Moon Crests hugged each other and swayed back and forth.
The show was a rousing success with the crowd leaving with smiles on their faces. This is my first-time seeing Sanchez live, and I’ll definitely see him again when he comes back. His vocal range is off the charts, and he knows how to entertain a crowd. The Moon Crests are also an amazing backing band. They knew when to draw back their sound to let Sanchez stand out.
If you want to see Stephen Sanchez for yourself, he still has some shows left in 2023. The closest one is in Atlanta on December 16th at the Eastern.
- Something About Her
- I Need You Most of All
- Only Girl
- No One Knows
- Doesn’t Do Me Any Good
- Be More
- Oh, Pretty Woman
- Death of a Troubadour
- Send My Heart With a Kiss
- Howlin’ at Wolves (unreleased)
- Fame and Fortune (unreleased)
- The Pool
- Bennie and the Jets / Bohemian Rhapsody
- Until I Found You