Published Oct 21, 2016The Halifax Forum's Multipurpose Centre is a big, cavernous space. If it's not filled with people, and the people who are there are chatty, it can be a daunting room to play — especially if you're not a headliner.
With most of the crowd on-hand for BADBADNOTGOOD, I worried a bit for Toronto's Daniel Caesar and his slow-burning R&B soul balladry. My worry was ultimately misplaced: as Caesar's 40-minute set progressed, you could watch the audience snap to his groove more tightly, song by song, shutting up and swaying along with greater and greater focus.
Wearing a BADBADNOTGOOD T-shirt, and performing with hunched shoulders and a wallflower's pose, Caesar and his stunning falsetto held court through songs like "We'll Always Have Paris" and "Death & Taxes." His five-piece band left ample space in the arrangements for quiet, making their returns hit with extra impact. Caesar debuted his fantastic new song "Get You," just released earlier in the day, and even managed to get a small crowd sing-along going with his vocals on River Tiber's "West."
The Forum show was the first of two on the night for Caesar: after joining BADBADNOTGOOD for a couple of covers, he rushed off to the Carleton Bar & Grill for an additional late set before a more intimate crowd likely more familiar with his work. And while that show may well have offered a better environment for his music, the fact that the 21-year-old managed to win over and captivate the festival's biggest room speaks volumes about his talent.