Donning a rain coat and shorts adorned with green sequins, Shy Lennox, backed up by his frequent producer captain pizza, opened his EP release show at Flora with “Afterblunts,” the single that put him on the map with almost 300,000 streams on Spotify. The crowd swayed and sang along to the familiar tune.
The Sept. 7 show celebrated the release of “Audition,” Lennox’s aptly named debut EP. It features the known and loved “Afterblunts,” as well as five all-new tracks.
Lennox treated the crowd to the first new song of the night, “Hennything” featuring backup vocals from Alivia Lassiter. It needed no time to grow on the crowd; the track’s lo-fi keys and Lennox’s low, slurred delivery had everyone in the dark, sweaty room on their feet.
The first half of the set featured more familiar tunes like “Blue Velvet” and new, unheard tracks like “Tuesday,” which Lennox said he wrote when he was 16 years old.
After these tracks, captain pizza retired to the crowd and a band featuring bass, drums, keyboard and saxophone set up to treat the crowd to more new music.
The band opened with “Better Man,” the EP’s closer. The live performance was a bit more dynamic than the studio version, with a more organic feel thanks to the driving drums and rumbling bass.
Many of the songs Lennox played with the band were extended versions that allowed for solos and gave the crowd time to pick up on the lyrics so they could sing along. Lennox made sure to share the spotlight, as he introduced all the musicians backing him and gave them a few bars to solo.
After a moment of silence for the late Mac Miller, Lennox and the band capped off the night with a track that did not make the final cut for the EP. Lennox, over gorgeous soaring piano chords, crooned about the all-too-familiar act of “scrolling through your timeline.” The commonality of the heartbreak in the song paired with the uber-emotional performance created an energy of solidarity that swept over everyone in attendance and made for more than a few leaky eyes.
“Audition” is a slow, dreamy, cloudy EP that is sensual and passionate in most places, and sadly retrospective — even angry — in others. It doesn’t necessarily aim to reinvent rhythm and blues, but it doesn’t follow the formulas that a lot of popular R&B does. It’s a debut anyone would be proud to have their name on.
As the final chord of the night died slowly, Lennox departed with a statement: “I’m Shy Lennox and I’m just getting started.”