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SF LGBT Center’s Queer Vibes Gears Up for Its First In-Person Concert

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Person with curly black hair sings into microphone while playing electric guitar
Azuah is one of the queer and trans musicians who've performed at the San Francisco LGBT Center's Queer Vibes program, which has its first in-person performance showcase on July 29. (Courtesy of Azuah)

“Baby boo, why are you so blue?” So begins Azuah’s intimate performance filmed in 2021 at the San Francisco LGBT Center. The soulful singer and guitarist brought a three-piece band to accompany them with jazz-inspired instrumentation on a rainbow stage decorated with house plants.

Azuah’s set is part of the San Francisco LGBT Center’s Queer Vibes program, inspired by the successful pandemic-era pivot of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts. In 2021, community programs manager Timothy Hampton noticed that many local queer (and mostly Black) artists needed support to put on virtual shows. He found queer lighting and sound designers and a videographer, and created a performance stage at the organization’s Castro location.

Queer Vibes is an important platform for rising artists like Azuah, who grew a local following prior to the pandemic after performing at venues like El Rio and supporting Oakland-based artist collective Smartbomb. They were set to launch their music platform and go on tour, then—well, you know what happened in March 2020. 

Like many artists, Azuah looked to the internet to share their work. But they were deliberate about who they shared it with. “I’m more intentional in wanting to play for queer people,” they say.

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That’s where Hampton came in. “I love Tiny Desk,” Hampton says. “I love what they created. Just to see an artist in the moment showing their gift… I think that’s not only what the community needs but what the artist needs.” 

“And it’s not that Tiny Desk doesn’t have queer artists, but it feels good to say that we have our own space,” he adds. 

On July 29, the SF LGBT Center is hosting The A-List Lounge, their first Queer Vibes event with a live audience. Azuah will perform alongside singer ASTU and musician/filmmaker AroMa.

Since 2021, Queer Vibes has assisted artists with career development in addition to offering them space to perform. Hampton and his team work with one artist each month-long “season” to produce their set, which is then uploaded to YouTube and promoted on social media platforms.

“Timothy has been really supportive and I’ve been so grateful to have a Black queer elder take me under his wing,” says Azuah. “It’s been wonderful to celebrate Black queer art.”

Hampton refers to the filmed sets as a “resume,” providing artists with a work sample that can lead to other opportunities. Indeed, after Azuah’s Queer Vibes performance was posted in April of this year, they were invited to perform at San Francisco’s Trans March in June. Fellow Queer Vibes artist Tory Teasley sang at a San Francisco Giants game in the same month. 

Three artists pose standing up in music performance set with rainbow flag rug, with one person kneeling and crossing arms in front of them. Musical instruments and house plants are present in the background
Queer Vibes artist Tory Teasley alongside bandmates Kristina Lee and Ryan Schaeffer and Queer Vibes creator Timothy Hampton (courtesy of San Francisco LGBT Center)

Hampton is excited for Queer Vibes’ impact to expand. He wants it to evolve into an outdoor summer concert series that uplifts LGBTQ+ BIPOC artists.  “I think people now are ready to experience the vibe live,” he says. 

As for the first Queer Vibes event with a live audience? “I feel like everyone is going to be completely floored,” says Azuah.



Queer Vibes: The A-List Lounge takes place on July 29 at the SF LGBT Center. Free with RSVP

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