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Show Review: Stephen Sanchez takes Phoenix back in time at The Van Buren

Phoenix traveled back in time this week when Stephen Sanchez stepped out of the past and onto The Van Buren’s stage. The 21-year-old crooner transformed the venue into a club from a bygone era and mesmerized his sold out audience in the process.

After achieving massive online success with “Until I Found You”, that success has translated to an incredible glow up in his live performances. Backlit by an enormous spotlight, Sanchez took the stage to the tune of “Something About Her”, the kickoff song for an interactive story woven into the setlist itself.

Then the lights came up and the crowd was dazzled by the spectacle- from Sanchez’s spotless loafers to his band’s coordinating suits, the show was a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. His set loosely told the story of “Evangeline” (also the name of the second song) and her tragically doomed love story with a mystery man known only as The Troubadour. 

It really was as though Sanchez had stepped right out of the 1950s, referencing fictional talk shows where the band had performed songs like “Be More” and the swing dance-ready “Shake”. He also threw in a picture perfect cover of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” to really drive the vibes home.

The love story reached its heartbreaking conclusion with “Death of the Troubadour” and by this point, the audience was fully invested in the story and the music. His incredibly talented band held down the instrumentals as Sanchez shimmied and shook across the stage, pulling focus in a way that made it impossible to turn your attention anywhere else.

Like the Troubadour’s story, the evening itself had to reach its conclusion so Sanchez closed things out with “The Pool” and “Until I Found You”- a spectacular moment that broke down the walls between performer and fans, turning TVB into one collective voice. 

While online numbers don’t always turn into real life success, Sanchez is proof that any mold can be broken when the talent is front and center. His performance was captivating and as his star continues to rise, we’re sure to be seeing him drawing even larger crowds next time around.

Check out all the photos!

Story and photos by Olivia Khiel