Gallant Mod Club, Toronto ON, October 17

Gallant Mod Club, Toronto ON, October 17
Photo: Stephen McGill
"What good is a sword, next to a shotgun?" muses upstart R&B artist Christopher Gallant on his single "Shotgun." The theme of human frailty is ever-present in a lot of his fast-growing body of work. Last night (October 17), during his 60-minute set at Toronto's Mod Club, his songs roared to life.
As Gallant, the 24-year-old has the goods and he knows it. His debut album Ology, released earlier this year, is rock-solid, an interwoven mix of R&B and electronic styles topped off with his impeccable falsetto. To say that Gallant upholds R&B impresario Maxwell as a significant influence might be minimizing things; his musical methodology and thematic flair scream Urban Hang Suite 2.0. Exuding charisma and more than a bit of swagger, he tore into cuts off his debut.
He apologized about missing the show's original September date — he postponed the show to participate in the U.S.-based "Stand Up to Cancer" telecast — before rocking his set.
Dressed simply in jeans and his trademark "frowny face" logo shirt, Gallant carried himself with nonchalance, a relaxed vibe punctuated by frenzied gyrations across the stage, pausing every now and then to hit us with a pitch-perfect falsetto scream. In front of a simple three-piece backing band, he breezed through cuts "Bone + Tissue," "Bourbon" and his lead single, "Weight in Gold," which earned a rousing sing-along. 
"Miyazaki" shamelessly rips Groove Theory's mid-90s anthem "Tell Me" and Maxwell-esque lyrics — "All the heartbreak hit like suicide" — but its performance was unruffled and excellent. A stripped-down cover of Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly" would seem ill-advised in theory, but he nevertheless made it soar. The aforementioned "Shotgun" was rendered here as pure passion play, and duet "Skipping Stones" was met with much applause, owing to the fact that his backup singer-pianist more than capably covered Jhene Aiko's part. 
Gallant has positioned himself as an R&B leader of the new school. His musical mindset and vocal talents are garnering attention, and it's well earned. "He goes so high, goes so high," someone in the crowd (with an apparent knack for stating the obvious) proclaimed in delight. So high, indeed.