Photo Credit: Nick Rufo
Hollywood Boulevard was buzzing on Halloween as people strolled past in costumes, laughing, off to make lifelong memories with their loved ones. For about 1,200 people, including us at Ones to Watch, we'll look back at Halloween 2017 with unforgettable memories of Daniel Caesar performing at The Fonda Theatre. Following Caesar since the release of several hit singles like "Get You" and "Japanese Denim," as well as an incredible debut EP, we were so excited for his full album that dropped back in August. After reviewing Freudian on the blog, we didn't think it would be possible to fall more in love with the soulful singer. We were proved wrong hearing him live last night.
Almost an hour after doors opened, there was still a line of people - yes, some were dressed in costume - wrapped around the block waiting to get into the venue. The show was sold out, and The Fonda provided the perfect ambiance and size for Caesar. Concertgoers were greeted by a posh but vintage lobby, highlighting the romantic vibes of Caesar's music. The GA floor was full, but the crowd was accommodating enough for everyone to freely move to the music. People definitely had a good time with enough space as well, and as a true testament to the nature of Caesar's music, the crowd was more respectful than many we've experienced at other concerts of a similar size. Unsurprisingly, many of the individuals were couples spending a night together in the presence of one of the dreamiest singers in today's scene.
The stage itself was quite minimal in production, but very thoroughly reflective of Caesar's music. He had a bassist, a guitarist, a keyboard player, a drummer, and his own electric guitar. Everyone in the band was clad in all white while Caesar was dressed a bit more casually in black. The lighting alternated between soft and dramatic, blue and red, sweeping and still. The crowd went crazy from the onset of the dimming lights and fading out of ambient music, leading up to Caesar's first song.
"Japanese Denim" - My blue jeans/Will last me all my life/So should we.
Blue lights set the mood and shown on Caesar upon his first word. He opened with his hit single, "Japanese Denim," highlighting his vocal dexterity and emotive capability. Coupled with a crooning electric guitar and rhythmic bass, this line in the chorus led to a crescendo in energy from both on stage and the crowd. As he sings, we likewise hope to hear a lifetime of music from Caesar in the same way he hopes to have a lifelong love. The soul behind "Japanese Denim" set the tone for the rest of the night and captivated every heart in the room from the very beginning.
"Best Part (feat. H.E.R.)" - I just wanna see how beautiful you are/You know that I see it/I know you're a star.
Caesar picked up his electric guitar for the first time that night. He transitioned into "Best Part," arguably one of the most popular tracks off Freudian. Although he may have been singing a specific person in this chorus, it was apparent through the demonstration of his flawless vocals that to his fans, Caesar shines amidst a highly saturated music scene. It's certainly true that between two sold out nights in Los Angeles, over 2,000 people “just wanna [hear] how beautiful" his voice is. Caesar opened solo with just his guitar. He later let just the crowd sing to H.E.R.'s verse, and it was incredible to witness how everyone knew each word. We sang along too.
"Take Me Away (feat. Syd)" - Take me away.
The line is pretty self-explanatory - take us away, Daniel Caesar. Same goes for Syd, whom he brought out as a special guest during this song.
"Neu Roses (Transgressor's Song)" - Baby, please don't leave me.
All the lights dimmed. The room was completely dark with the exception of slowly sweeping spotlights and pulsing lights that matched the hauntingly beautiful song. The bass and drums were introduced with a burst of blue as Caesar reappeared and serenade us with the lilting melody of "Neu Roses (Transgressor's Song)." As we swayed along to the second half of the show, we didn't want the show to end or Caesar to leave.
"Transform (feat. Charlotte Day Wilson)" - It's never over until life ends/Lay down beside me, do it again.
Caesar was full of surprises as he brought out his third guest of the night, Charlotte Day Wilson. The R&B songstress joined her fellow Toronto native on stage for "Transform." Both Caesar and Wilson sang this line beautifully, very clearly resonating with many people in the room as they gently danced with the music.
So this line may not actually be a lyric, but Caesar did say these words right before leading into gospel-influenced tracks, "We Find Love" and "Blessed." His words were greeted by cheers and whoops as people voiced their willingness to probably follow Caesar anywhere. The crowd sang along loudly to "We Find Love," singing in empathy with Caesar's cyclical experience with love. As he transitioned into "Blessed," the emotion in the room was high as we were blessed with Caesar's smooth yet powerful voice. "I'm coming back home to you," he sang repeatedly and passionately, and as the night drew to a close, we likewise hoped that he'll come back soon.
"Get You (feat. Kali Uchis)" - Every time I look into your eyes I see it/You're all I need.
As the stage became dark once again, everyone knew what was coming for the encore: his hit song that the entire night had been building up to. With the crowd cheering loudly and relentlessly chanting, "Daniel, Daniel," Caesar and his band came on to perform "Get You." The juxtaposition between his commanding vocals in the verses and entrancing falsetto in the chorus had us hooked once and for all by the end of the show. "Who would've thought I'd get you?" Caesar questions, but we're almost positive that everyone else in the room was thinking the same thing about what the night would have been like without experiencing such a remarkable, heart-melting show.
Most of the shows on the rest of the Freudian tour are sold out, but check all dates below and see if you can find a ticket to hear Daniel Caesar. Who knows, this might be your only chance to get up close.