Rising R&B artist Dijon gives raw, emotional performance in San Francisco

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It doesn’t always take an elaborate stage and fancy instrumentals to make for a spellbinding night. This was decisively proved by R&B artist Dijon, who sang with more emotion and vulnerability than most performers normally bring to a stage. Playing a sold-out show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco, the Baltimore artist added an organic twist to his poetic tunes.

Opening the show with “Nico’s Red Truck,” Dijon’s dreamy lyrics were screamed back by the audience as he sang them out with all the power in his chest. In an interesting touch, he held two microphones onstage: one without vocal effects and the other with an intense reverb sound for special parts of the song. He swam through each chorus, throwing a thumbs-up to the crowd as he finished in a cloud of cheering.

Unusually, there were no openers for the show, so audience members were thrown straight into the set. The change was surprisingly refreshing, especially considering the 9 p.m. start time. Wearing overalls and a baseball cap, Dijon made this night all about the music; a simple stage setup of a guitarist and a drummer completed the picture.

Dijon has been on the rise in the past few years, more substantially so after being featured as a background vocalist on the songs “SUMMER” and “1998 TRUMAN” by popular hip-hop/rap group BROCKHAMPTON. He is also a member of the R&B duo Abhi//Dijon, which produced the song “Often” back in 2016.

During the concert, the performance of “Drunk” almost matched the degree of rawness of Kendrick Lamar’s “u,” leaving Dijon with pure, emotion-driven expressions as he yelled into the mic. The energy, exposition and honesty proved these songs came from the core of the artist.

At one point in the show, a fan from the crowd asked Dijon how tall he is, to which he replied, “5’9” … but I’m growing every year.” While the artist didn’t say much throughout his performance, audience members could still feel within talking distance in the small room.

Fairly early in the set, the vocalist performed his hit song “Skin,” which has garnered more than 6 million plays on Spotify. There were slight technical difficulties as the sound was often static-ridden, but it did not overpower the artist’s booming vocals.

During “Cannonball,” the crowd showed even more participation, singing the drawn-out vocal runs in loud sections. The artist’s vocals cracked with punchy intention as he sang through the side of his mouth, directing the music from a board at the front of the stage. This style often paralleled the sound of Frank Ocean’s Blonde album, creating a genre-bending electronic edge.

“Bad Luck” was the most lively song of the night, a two-minute tune from Dijon’s newest EP Sci Fi 1. The crowd clapped along to the swinging beat as he transitioned into “Jesse,” a tear-jerking display that left the crowd wondering who Jesse is and why he hurt our beloved performer. In a fit of emotion, Dijon threw his hat into the crowd at the end, taking a moment to recompose after the heart-wrenching performance.

The last song of the night, “Violence),” ended the concert with a bang. Dijon threw himself down into the crowd to share the hour with the fans surrounding him in the intimate venue. As the song finished and he jumped back onstage, his instrumentalists hugged him and the show came to a close.

The crowd chanted, particularly surprised, when the show ended before 10 p.m. even struck. They cheered for an encore that never came, but Dijon still walked off the stage to interact with fans at the merch table immediately after. This artist is going to be one to watch in the next year. He truly gives his all to every song, live or recorded.

Contact Skylar De Paul at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.