One of the best things about Coachella is not going.
The massive desert festival, which takes place over back-to-back weekends (April 14-16 and 21-23), attracts enough talent to California that many acts work it into their tours. In other words, if you stay put, you can see tons of excellent live music this month right here in the temperate Bay Area, without having to dance yourself into near-dehydration in the Sahara Tent.
British DJ and producer SG Lewis might be 2023’s best illustration of this auxiliary benefit to sharing a state with Coachella. The newly minted resident of Los Angeles is swinging through San Francisco for two nights at the Warfield Theatre, Friday and Saturday, April 7-8, with Lava La Rue.
At least, someone with a similar name is. The Warfield’s marquee initially boasted that someone with the Narnia-esque name of “GS Lewis” was coming to town.
“It was all part of an April Fool’s joke,” the real SG Lewis told The Standard. “I didn’t mind it. There was a bit on social media that got people talking about the show.”
Playing coy as to whether he had a hand in it, he merely states that “GS Lewis” sounds like a rap project. But Lewis’ affection for San Francisco is real. In October 2021, as the world was becoming increasingly familiar with his most famous track, “Chemicals,” he performed at the pandemic-delayed Outside Lands, prefacing his set with a 40-second intro video that parodied the Full House credits. That was a joke he was definitely in on.
“I was speaking to friends, and we decided that that’s the essential San Francisco Halloween costume, so it was really fun to tip my hat to that,” he said.
Like San Francisco’s Poolside, SG Lewis’ music combines club bangers with an easygoing afternoon chillness and dedicated musicianship. Post-”Chemicals,” he’s become increasingly confident about treating his own voice as another instrument. Call it yacht rock tinged with wedding music and a hint of prog, but it’s synth-centric and effortlessly upbeat—Californian to the core, as one might expect from someone who’s about to play Coachella for the third time and isn’t even 30.
Lewis, who has collaborated with the likes of Jessie Ware, Dua Lipa, Tove Lo and many others, admits he’s not one of those people who can “produce on a plane.” He’s either fully in production mode or in performance mode, but those elements inevitably cross-pollinate.
He roped in some fellow festival-circuit veterans for his second full-length release, January’s AudioLust & HigherLove. Channel Tres’s unmistakable and velvety basso profundo vocals show up on standout track “Fever Dreamer,” which also features Charlotte Day Wilson. It’s not just because Channel is everywhere these days, but because they share a studio.
“We would see each other most days and give feedback, and I had a whiteboard with all the stuff that I needed to finish, and he came in like, ‘What’s that? What, am I not on the album?’” Lewis recalled. “The Charlotte Day Wilson song was missing a second verse, so he went away, wrote his verse, and we recorded one that week.”
That collaborative ease comes at a pivotal time for Lewis, who recently played a show at London’s Hammersmith Apollo that he called a “flag-in-the-ground moment.” The venue—roughly one-and-a-half times the Warfield’s 2,200-person capacity—was a major part of his early career, and taking the stage there again made him unexpectedly emotional.
“There were a lot of people who are connected with what I do,” Lewis said, “and while my ambitions are constanty changing, that was a beautiful moment to realize that I got to the place that I’d only dreamed of 10 years ago.”
📍 The Warfield Theatre | 982 Market St., SF
🗓️ Friday-Saturday, April 7-8
Astrid Kane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org