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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Stephen Sanchez makes a memorable mark on his home city

TikTok famous singer Stephen Sanchez impresses at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl with a sold-out show.
Connie Chen
Stephen Sanchez performs at the Brooklyn Bowl, as photographed on Feb. 11, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Connie Chen)

After buying my ticket to see Stephen Sanchez a week before his performance at Brooklyn Bowl, a couple of my friends asked me to play some of his songs. It only took a few seconds of me playing one of his hit singles, “Lady By the Sea,” before they immediately identified it as “that one TikTok song!”  

After posting himself singing an acoustic version of this song —  his second TikTok video ever — Sanchez blew up overnight, amassing over two million views and getting a deal with Republic Records. From this opportunity, the young artist wrote another hit song, “Kayla,” in July of 2021, and a few months later added his EP, “What Was, not Now,” to his collection. Sanchez continued to accumulate hits with his first full album, “Easy on My Eyes,” in 2022, along with his single “Missing You,” and his 2023 single “Evangeline” released only 22 days ago and already making part charts. His sheer number of hits prove that it was not just luck that transformed this novel TikToker into a headlining heartthrob, but evidently, his raw talent and genuine passion have put him in a great place early in his career.

The opening act brought mounting enthusiasm from the audience and immediately, I knew the concert was going to be a great experience. Opener Sick Puppy brought up the audience’s enthusiasm with emotional tunes and lyrics that promote mental wellness. The bright blue-haired artist’s closing song, “Lost Again,” featured a dramatic conclusion, with the audience singing along and waving their flashlights — a strong prelude for Sick Puppy’s successor.

Sanchez made quite a loud and impassioned entrance, kicking off with the rock-and-roll-esque “Hey Girl” from his recent album, “Easy on My Eyes.” An immaculate energy permeated from the stage and its performers, and the crowd reciprocated. The 20-year-old artist sings with an old-timey style and dances with his own twist on an Elvis-like jive, clearly inspired by his love for the pop and rock music of the ‘50s. 

When singing “Only Girl,” Sanchez admitted that he wrote the lyrics with a specific person in mind and that he typically does in his songwriting process. His singing of another girl painfully reminds his fans that he is an unavailable man. This romantic style of writing is what makes listeners immediately love him despite his limited time in the songwriting business. The fresh-to-fame singer did expose his novelty to stage performance when he forgot the words to his acoustic solo and played a few wrong chords. Somehow he made these little slip-ups cute and laughable, and his quirky jokes throughout the concert were well accepted and enjoyed by the audience.

Stephen Sanchez dances while performing, as photographed on Feb. 11, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Connie Chen)
(Connie Chen)

At one point in the concert, Sanchez introduced his band members: Jesse Houle on the guitar, Brooks Gengenbach on the bass and Watson Maack on the drums, plus Connor Petersen as band photographer and Jack Charles as the touring videographer. The artist shared how much it meant to all of them to return to their roots and thanked Nashville for “the warm welcome home.” Despite being born and raised in Northern California, Sanchez explained that he and his entire band and crew got their break in Nashville in 2021, and have been writing music here ever since. 

Originally, Sanchez was supposed to open for Noah Kahan on his “Stick Season” tour; however, Sanchez had to pull out after learning he needed vocal surgery. He admitted that he did not believe his tour would commence after such a setback, but was proved wrong. Sanchez shared with us how much had changed for him in a few months: “A year ago, I was standing up there thinking to myself, ‘man, how cool would it be if I played here one day?’ Here I am, a year later, and our show is completely sold out.” The band has already performed in seven cities since the beginning of February and has another 20 to entertain before the end of March, concluding their first American tour.

In between his last two songs, Sanchez shouts out Kings Elliot for her consistently outstanding openings, along with Daniel Nunnelee for being a supportive fan and friend. Spotting an “I heart Stephen, Jesse, Connor, Anson, Brooks and Watson!!!” sign in the audience, Sanchez also paid a sweet shoutout to the famous 12-year-old Addie, who runs the @stephen_sanchez_fangroup Instagram page. 

To conclude his performance, Sanchez played the song everyone had been anticipating, the one made famous by the TV show “Ginny and Georgia” and promoted by TikTok. “Until I Found You” brought the audience into a harmonious sing-a-long, and for those who did not know the words, a smile and a sway took their place. The fans left with a new love for the 20-year-old who is making quite a mark on the field of retro-modern pop-rock. 

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About the Contributors
Ella Wupperman
Ella Wupperman, Former Staff Writer
Ella Wupperman (‘26) is majoring in medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She can be reached at [email protected].
Connie CHen
Connie CHen, Former Staff Photographer
Connie Chen ('24) is from St. Louis, studying economics in the College of Arts and Science with minors in business and computer science. When she isn’t taking photos, you can find her exploring Nashville’s restaurants, journaling or examining the stock market. She can be reached at .
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