Concert Review: Daniel Caesar

Daniel Caesar and Snoh Aalegra bring the blues and bass to our very own campus Stage Room.

On Monday night, the soul-influenced rhythm and blues singer, Daniel Caesar, performed at the Stage Room here on our very own UC San Diego campus. He has built quite the online following and has collaborated with several up-and-coming artists like Kali Uchis, H.E.R., and BadBadNotGood. The sold-out venue was overflowing with lively and excited Daniel Caesar fans. The small space allowed for an intimate feel; although there were a lot of students crammed into the space, the crowd remained small due to space constraints. Nonetheless, the audience was endlessly festive and convivial.

The opening artist, Snoh Aalegra, started the show with some jazzy tunes. Aalegra is a Swedish singer based in Los Angeles whose singing style is soulful, similar to that of Amy Winehouse. The band members were as harmonious with their music as they were in demeanor; frequently looking over at one another while smiling and bobbing their heads. When Daniel Caesar came up to the stage, he promptly kicked off the show with some tracks, most of which are from his newest album, “Freudian,” released in August earlier this year. Caesar’s sound is rhythmic and soulful with a touch of R&B, but his lyrics also carry a powerful messages about love. His band consists of a keyboardist, a drummer, a guitarist, and a bassist; all of which were happily bopping along as they played — you could tell they were feeling it. Despite the technical difficulties with the sound, and Caesar’s occasional aloofness, the audience was supportive and enthusiastic from start to finish. Not to suggest that he seemed apathetic, but he could have infused his performance with more energy. His band members, on the other hand, were much more lively during the performance.

At the risk of angering his fans, I have to say that he was not exactly the showman I was expecting. Daniel Caesar was less audible than his band, and although his band was very entertaining, his voice was drowned out by the instruments. You could barely hear his voice in the front row, much less in the back. Although I am a fan of his work, I don’t feel that we really got to see how talented he truly is. This is not to say that his songs are not amazing, it just means that he didn’t execute them in a way that allowed us to see their full potential. He did not introduce his band, and he did not exactly give off the impression that he was enjoying himself, which I think is important when performing live. A newer fan might have felt a bit unwelcome after being encouraged to sing along to his old songs and many references to his older, less popular songs. On one song, he wanted only older fans to sing along with him. For a newer fan, such as myself, who wanted to experience his music or others who may have come to hear him perform, it seemed like a show for super-fans rather than all fans. I do think it is a little bit unfair to his supporters, because they paid money to see him live, and I don’t think their expectations were met.

At the end of the night, everybody who was there seemed to really enjoy themselves. Even though the show didn’t run as smoothly as expected, his screaming fans seemed to indicate that they enjoyed it all the same. After completing the set, the talented Daniel Caesar indulged his chanting fans with one more song. He brought the show to a close by singing “Get You” off of his “Freudian” album, while everyone in the audience sang along to the lyrics.

Grade: B-
Date: October 30, 2017
Location: The Stage Room

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Mejia