Daniel Caesar Rifflandia, Victoria BC, September 14

Daniel Caesar Rifflandia, Victoria BC, September 14
Photo: Lindsey Blane
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With his four-piece band and a trio of backup singers hanging out onstage, his name in projected in Pulp Fiction font over shaky Super 8 style awkward home movies, Toronto's Daniel Caesar (born Ashton Simmonds) hit the stage running, some ten minutes late. Maybe he got held up from the night before, having come from playing a private acoustic concert for LeBron James and his wife Savannah's fifth anniversary, but whatever the reason, that was about the most hustle he showed during his set.
 
Caesar may have started off in a style where one doesn't necessarily want to attract a ton of attention to themselves, having grown up singing in a Seventh-day Adventist Church, but he seems pretty full of himself these days. Walking around taking swigs from a bottle of Hennessy, his brand of neo-soul and R&B is far more in line with Frank Ocean and the Weeknd than the church.
 
The crowd was stoked to be in his presence. Caesar picked up a guitar for highlight "Best Part," a track sexier than anything R. Kelly ever did, while "Take Me Away" lived up to its flow, so dreamy it makes you want to float away on record.
 
His voice was as buttery as on his Grammy-nominated, Polaris Prize-recognized 2017 album Freudian, but his band seemed to be trying harder than him. His backup singers were heavenly, and his bassist, with a pink bandana wrapped around the neck of her axe, looked like she was having a blast bumping out those smooth R&B grooves.
 
Yet Caesar chose to cap off their set by passing the mic to some randos in the crowd and letting them warble out the last few bars of "Get You" before leaving the stage triumphantly. It was things like that which made it feel more like a mixed bag than the victory lap it could have been.