By the time 7:00 PM rolled around on Tuesday night, the line of concert-goers waiting to be let into the Showbox stretched around a corner and over block and a half. I talked to nearly everyone waiting in line before the show, and most of them weren’t aware of who R&B artist Stanaj was other than being the opener for SoMo. By the end of the night, I think the singer made quite the impression on the crowd as he showcased his good humor and impressive voice in a relatively short set of 7 songs.
Stanaj opened with “Goddess”, one of the four songs released on his first EP, The Preview. The song started him off strong and showed many clueless members of the audience what they were in store for with him, as he belted out the lyrics “Love beyond the sky / When heaven and Earth collide” in falsetto during the song. He was able to perfectly set the tone for the night, which was decidedly sexy, and display his wide vocal range at the same time.
The singer took a moment to address the crowd in front of him in between songs to talk about food poisoning and being sick, both of which he experienced the day before the show. He drew laughs from the audience when he went on about using throat spray for his voice due to his recent illness, and commenting that he wasn’t sure who he’d be kissing tonight because the throat spray tasted so awful. He kept up similarly playful “banter” with the audience throughout his time on stage, and this worked to create some rapport between him and the crowd and made his show, at least for me, pretty enjoyable even when he wasn’t singing.
Stanaj continued the show with two more songs from his EP. “Romantic” was the slowest song of the night, and it worked nicely with the crowd’s energy. He also sang a personal favorite of mine, “Ain’t love strange”, which is really something else to hear live. I couldn’t get enough of his super smooth voice and emotional intensity on stage as he belted out “Maybe baby, I’ve seen crazier things / Stranger things have happened, how strange would it be / If I told you I believed you were made for me?”.
He gave a sneak peek at a new song called “Meant to Be”, a slow, bittersweet ballad that included beautiful lyrics like “it must have been our names written in the stars”. Stanaj also did a cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” while playing the piano, a song which he said was one of his favorites to play. He has a cover of the song on YouTube, where he first started posting covers and was able to initially gain popularity through the platform. He humorously told the crowd, “It gets me in the feels bro” after finishing the song, which helped to lighten up the heavy, heartsick feeling permeating the venue when he finally finished the emotional song. He finished the set with the slightly more upbeat “Sleep Alone”, which is also on his EP. It served as a nice finale and definitely pumped the crowd up for SoMo’s following set.
Stanaj waited by his merch booth to meet people after show, and took pictures with fans as they waited to exit the venue. Though he might not be an influencer yet, his music is already catching the attention of fans and established artists alike. He has already been seen in circles with big music names like Drake and Chris Brown, and I can say after seeing one live show, I cannot wait to see what he has in store. My one complaint about the singer? He has only four songs out. I’ll definitely be watching out for new music from artist Stanaj.