At his concert Saturday night at San Francisco’s Amnesia, singer Henry Chadwick started out the night with “Bless Up, Vibe Out.” With this, Chadwick set the tone for the rest of his show. This song, which clocks in at just over a minute, was an interesting pick for the start of the show — especially considering it’s the closing song from the singer’s debut album Marlin Fisher. In this way, it felt like this was representative of the closing of that aspect of Chadwick’s career, as the singer was primarily focused on promoting his latest EP, The President of Make Believe.
Dressed in white flared trousers, with a grown-out Beatles haircut, Chadwick looked like someone from the 1970s — a throwback aesthetic extending to his music. Mixing pop sensibilities with a background in pop punk, Chadwick creates a sound wholly his own, one that doesn’t seem to belong in any one period. The crowd was receptive to this sound, and he continued to play songs both off of his new EP and his earlier work. He infused the crowd with energy and transported audience members to a time only vaguely situated in the past.
Affable and seemingly happy to simply be performing, Chadwick gave a crisp-sounding and charismatic show. Engaging with the audience both during, before and after the show, Chadwick was an excellent musician with a great stage presence and came off as genuine — no aspect of his personality being just for show.
The crowd consisted mainly of young 20-somethings one would expect to see in the Mission District on a Saturday night, but there were a few exceptions: older men who seemed appreciative of Chadwick’s timeless, but nostalgia-infused, style of music.
Chadwick is a local musician based out of Santa Cruz. He first made it on to listeners’ radars in 2016 with his EP Guest at Home — his song “Alright” reached commercial heights, and the EP’s titular track “Guest at Home” garnered critical applause. Following up this EP with his album Marlin Fisher, which was mixed by Rob Schnapf, Chadwick updated his style and sound. And despite this new EP being released, Chadwick has noted that The President of Make Believe is the missing link between Guest at Home and Marlin Fisher.
Opened by the band Maita, which gave a dynamic performance, Chadwick surely had high expectations heading into his own performance. But he was able to meet those standards; Chadwick was able to match the audience’s enthusiasm for Maita and lead them into a sincere appreciation of his own musical repertoire.
A highlight from the show was the performance of “Alright,” a song that put Chadwick’s charisma on full display — it was a clear crowd-pleaser. “Alright” allowed for the strength of Chadwick’s vocals to shine through; his live performance sounded almost identical to the recording of the song.
Perhaps one of the more amusing aspects of the night was Chadwick’s performance of “No Brain No Pain” — a song that the audience joyously sang along to, and one that displayed a sense of humor that helped define the night. Lyrically dark with a healthy dose of absurdism, but nonetheless upbeat, this song was an anthem to be sung along to, especially for an audience that was progressively getting more intoxicated.
Throughout the concert, Chadwick played a Fender Telecaster Thinline guitar and at one point switched keys — though this surely didn’t throw off the quality of his musicianship. Instead, Chadwick was able to maintain a consistent quality of playing and singing for the entirety of the show, with the various members of his backing band matching him in skill.
Finishing out the night with his song “Peace and Quiet,” Chadwick put a close to a great set. Yet, even after he left, his music stayed with the audience members, who were left to ponder the unique strengths of an incredibly promising artist.
Highlights: “Bag of Chips,” “Alright,” and “Guest at Home”
Zoë Cramer covers music. Contact her at [email protected].