Wristbanded hands pushed and shoved to get to the front of Daniel Caesar’s performance, but if Caesar knew how many die-hard fans he had in his audience, he didn’t let on.
Sitting down with an electric guitar for “Best Part,” Caesar wanted his audience to learn the lyrics.
“Repeat after me,” he said, and he proceeded to speak each line for his crowd to sing back to him, smiling as the audience members happily did as they were told. Found footage from the ‘70s of smiling women and burning sage played behind Caesar as he strummed.
When he did sing, the artist inflected each line, the deep concentration on his face demonstrating the extent to which he felt every word. Caesar didn’t bring up any guests during his set, but even without the features, his songs still felt complete — other than “Take Me Away,” for which he disappointingly didn’t bring out The Internet’s Syd, even though she’d be performing on the same stage the next day.
Taking a break in the middle of the mellow grooves and gorgeous piano of “Blessed,” Caesar introduced the band behind him, which had been providing the track’s angelic backup vocals. “Let’s take it home,” Caesar told the crowd before jumping into the bridge, his voice inciting gasps as it oscillated to hit the notes in the song’s repetition of the lyric, “I’m coming back home to you.” Girls on the Jumbotron closed their eyes and swayed. The band pulled out all the stops for what seemed to be the finale, playing long after the recorded track ends and creating a beautiful amalgam of sound that crescendoed like the official chorus of the gate to heaven. And then it was silent.
“He can’t be done,” asserted a member of the crowd.
He wasn’t. Caesar ended on a high note — metaphorically, because he hardly needed to sing for his final number: his best-known track, “Get You.” In fact, he didn’t sing at all at first, allowing his band to simply play the instrumentals as he held his mic to the crowd and allowing the audience to act as his chorus. Members of the crowd waited with bated breath for Caesar himself to join, which he finally did after the final song’s first verse. “Every time I look into your eyes, I see it,” he crooned into the mic, his voice blending into one with the unified voice of the crowd.
Caroline Smith is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].