Once the digital screen background began to flash “keshi,” the audience knew that at last they were freed from their hell of palpable anticipation. Keshi finally walked onto the stage, welcoming everyone into the hour-long heaven that is his HELL/HEAVEN tour.
Wearing a stylish black long sleeve with white graphics, black jeans and matching boots, Keshi jumped back and forth across the stage while performing his most recent album GABRIEL’s opening track “Get It,” pumping the audience up even more than with just his presence alone. The opening song’s already electrifying nature in addition to his appearance supplied the audience with a second jolt of excitement. With two curled strands sticking out of his ponytail, Keshi looked ethereal as hair framed his face and spotlights illuminated him; he looked like an angel, some pun intended.
Several songs in to his sold-out show at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, Keshi delighted audiences with a 2020 release “Less of You,” featuring a call and response; as he sang the lyrics “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know” as the audience followed up with “I don’t know how to do this without you.” The emotional back-and-forth portrayed the cherished relationship between Keshi and his enraptured audience.
Following this, Keshi intoxicated the concertgoers with his performance of “Talk” as the lights behind him emitted short, perfectly timed flashes, matching the catchy repetitiveness of the chorus. As the rhythm continued to build and Keshi and the crowd began to jump and chant “Ay! Ay! Ay!” in unison, it became undeniable that this was truly a moment to remember.
Following this performance, Keshi commented on how hot it was inside the venue and promptly took off his shirt, one of his signature moves at his shows. At this point, he also had security pass out bottled water to the audience. A crowd member later shouted “Take off your pants!” to which Keshi responded by jokingly fiddling with his belt buckle.
Nearly halfway through the show, Keshi took out his guitar to perform three of his most acoustic songs: “Drunk,” “Understand” and the popular “Skeletons.” By far, “Drunk” stood out as one of his most intimate performances, especially memorable during the chorus when the audience sang louder than Keshi. Of all the upbeat, sing-along worthy songs in Keshi’s discography, the fact that one of his saddest and slowest songs garnered so much energy — albeit solemn — made the moment all the more beautiful.
After this brief acoustic set, Keshi introduced “Hell/Heaven” by saying he wrote it when he was so high he “thought he was gonna die” and didn’t know if he was in hell or heaven. Soft, pulsing colors appeared behind him during this performance. Later in the night, Keshi graciously accepted a fan’s tossed sunflower bouquet, and he also made sure to shout out his drummer, Darnell Howard, for his epic solo moment during “Right Here.”
Before closing out his set, Keshi brought out his guitar again to perform the last two melancholic, emotional songs from GABRIEL. Uniquely, he notably sang certain lines in a different way from in the original recording throughout his entire set. While he didn’t talk much to his audience over the course of the night, when he did, it was obvious he spoke from the heart. Before heading off stage after his penultimate song, he yelled, “Thank you guys so f—ing much!”
But the crowd wasn’t ready to part with Keshi just yet. The audience soon began to chant for one more song, and Keshi performed one last time for the night with the anticipated encore song “2 Soon.” Treating the crowd to one of his earliest songs, everyone began singing along again, raising the energy back to where it was when he first came out. Ending the show on a high despite the track’s more somber lyrics, Keshi sang, “Is it too soon?” — to which the only answer is yes.