Daniel Caesar came to Vancouver and everyone is talking about his euphoric performance
Vancouver, BC – This fall we’ve been lucky enough to witness an ample number of rising Canadian talents make the trek to the West Coast to hit our stages. While Toronto generally receives it’s notoriety for the over-heading success from artists like Drake and Tory Lanez, many show-goers, and music fans alike, are aware of the current uprising of redefining artistry coming out of central Canada. If you look just past the peripheral of mainstream artists, you may have discovered Toronto singer/songwriter, Daniel Caesar who has been credited with leading a period of revival and invigoration for the music community, especially in Toronto.
Gone are the times when artists need to be easily boxed in a single genre, and Caesar has pushed the restraints of many seamlessly. His sound easily fits within the constraints of R&B music, but artistically confuses these boundaries with soul, jazz, and gospel influences. Best described as intimate croons with overarching melodic ballads, Daniel has managed to make feel-good serenades the most effective sentiments in a detached era. Being the forward thinkers that they are, Stussy Vancouver took the initiative to bring him to the West Coast to perform at the Biltmore Cabaret last night (and we’re so thankful that they did). The result was a performance and evening unlike any other that I have attended this year, and one which was ecstatically received by Vancouver.
Tickets for this show stopped selling awhile ago, but you could buy them at the door if you came early enough. The anticipation for this show was high, and the choice of the Biltmore as the venue further proved that the currently unsigned yet influential singer was capable of easily bringing together large audiences outside of Toronto. To be frankly honest, I can’t remember the last time that I’ve seen that many bodies come out for a semi-underground artist. The turn-out was impressive, and the venue was lit with dimmed, warm lighting to set an inviting atmosphere that was welcoming for all.
Just after nine o’clock, we saw the band members take the stage behind drum sets, keyboards, and guitars before Daniel sauntered on stage for the opening of “End Of The Road” from his highly acclaimed second EP Praise Break. After a year of reviewing shows, some of which of some of the biggest heavyweights in the game, this opening was the first time that I’ve ever witnessed an artist take the breath away from their audience. As soon as he hit those high notes most of the women in the audience were sinking into themselves and swaying in unison to the dismay of many of the men who watched on enviously. Surprisingly, the room was fully comprised of equally as many gentlemen who were bobbing their heads in the front row as female counterparts.
After the initial awe retreated and the song slowed, Daniel took the mic to introduce the evening and exclaimed how beautiful all of the faces in the audience looked. There was something assuring about his voice, and his calmness was contagious throughout the entire venue. He kept his speaking minimal and let the music do most of the communicating as he continued onto “Violet” and the backdrop lights resided to a glowing firefly structure of changing hues. Many of his most recognized tracks were played, both old and new, such as: “Death & Taxes”, and “Japanese Denim” (which sounds even better live). But when the opening notes of his track with Sean Leon, “We’ll Always Have Paris” were played, the audience got considerably closer.
One of my personal favourite of the evening was his rendition of James Blake’s “Scream” as well as “Paradise” which showcased his equally as talented band due to its’ swing feel. The influences of the various genres were more identifiable in a live setting where the instruments had a fully reverberating chance to contribute their own strong sounds.
Daniel was visibly as stoked as his audience was, and had his signature grin across his face as he introduced his track with River Tiber titled,”West” and exclaimed, “I hope you enjoy this next one. We’re on the West Coast right now! We’re on the West Coast…How fitting is this!”
His humble banter humanized him, and as the show concluded he made sure to remind us that anyone could come talk to him at the merch’ table where he would be signing shirts. I waited my turn to, and impressively he held up on his promise without leaving that table until every single last fan had their chance to talk to him.
Not only was the evening filled with great music, but it also showed the everlasting value of true artistry regardless of whatever trends are currently dominating music culture. After watching his show last night it was easy to see that the slender gentleman is nothing short of a star in the making. We don’t expect him to stay unsigned for much longer, and everyone in attendance was lucky enough to be at a show that we’ll be talking about for quite some time.
Written by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada
Photography by Philip Mace for HipHopCanada