After a fabulous performance at Bates during Short Term 2018, Delicate Steve came back to campus for a second show on March 8th, 2019 in the Benjamin Mays Center. This time, Delicate Steve’s performance included tracks from his newly released album “Till I Burn Up,” which came out on March 1st. Both his Short Term and most recent show at Bates were presented by WRBC.
Steve Marion is the man behind the moniker and the red guitar. Marion came into the public consciousness in 2011 after a few stellar performances in New York City and the release of his first album “Wondervisions.” I first encountered Delicate Steve on an Urban Outfitters “Music Mondays” playlist released back in April of 2012. His song “Africa Talks To You,” of 2012’s “Positive Force” was featured alongside some old school Toro y Moi, Moonface, Suckers, and Ty Segall & Whitefence. I instantly gravitated toward the track; Marion’s gripping guitar melody carries the brief song and guides the listener through what could be used as a backing track for a joyous movie montage.
Since “Wondervisions,” Marion has released four albums, including a Christmas album (“The Christmas Album”). “Till I Burn Up” is a synthesis of Delicate Steve’s sound throughout the years. It experiments with more urgent and industrial beats while simultaneously holding on to what Marion does best: haunting guitar melodies backed by flawless rhythms that leave listeners with an undeniable final resonance. There’s a transiency and beauty to his tracks that certainly hasn’t been lost on his newest album.
Standout tracks from Delicate Steve’s most recent album include “Freedom,” “Way Too Long,” and its titular track, “Till I Burn Up.” Delicate Steve commands in “Freedom”, he liberates melodies only to immediately withhold them in the song’s frequent pauses, leaving the listener forever wanting more. “Way Too Long” is lighter, mimicking the youth Marion exudes on “Wondervisions” combined with a newfound maturity. There’s a depth to “Way Too Long” that departs from Marion’s earlier works. I distinctly remember hearing “Till I Burn Up” in the Ben Mays Center for the first time on Friday night, which is a testament to its greatness. There’s an angst and imperative nature to the song that’s unforgettable.
On stage, Marion doesn’t command much attention physically. During his performance on Friday night, he kept his head down, shaking his long (and, admittedly, luscious) brunette hair while his shadow was illuminated by multiple series of colored lights. His songs, on the other hand, had the audience transfixed. When listening to Delicate Steve, you can’t help but sway. He’s remarkably talented and precisely releases notes and chords into the dynamic atmosphere he creates during his performances.
Marion and his wicker-hat-clad entourage created a genuinely amusing atmosphere in the Ben Mays center. As a compliment to Delicate Steve’s music, audience members engaged in a dance contest in which everyone received a number. Those who accompanied Marion on his visit judged dancers and called out the numbers of finalists to compete for merchandise and Delicate Steve albums and CD’s.
I would urge all who won Delicate Steve music on Friday and music lovers alike to check out “Till I Burn Up,” and Marion’s earlier work as well, for that matter. Delicate Steve is a unicorn in the alternative genre and certainly worth a listen.