By Syaura Nashwa (24S03R)
On 17 July, Daniel Caesar was glad to be back in Singapore after his last Asia Tour in 2018. People who seemed to have emerged straight out of Pinterest filled The Star Performing Arts Centre. Doc Martens and baggy jeans were often seen amongst the indie singer’s concert goers.
As the concert began, a familiar local singer performed an opening act. Shye-Anne Brown, better known as ‘Shye’, has opened for many well-known artists in recent years. A notable example is the “Men I Trust” concert this May that I had gone to as well. Passionate and down-to-earth, she easily charmed the audience with her original lyricism and wholesome demeanour.
The build up to Caesar’s entrance was quite a ‘vibey’ one. Songs from other famous indie or alternative artists like Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy were meshed beautifully, which frankly (haha) made me anticipate a surprise guest performer. Although my intuition was wrong, my attention was quickly diverted when Caesar blessed the stage with his presence.
Caesar wasted no time once he entered the stage. He opened the concert with ‘Ocho Rios’—undoubtedly a catchy track with repetitive lyrics that the audience could easily follow.
The song was inspired by Caesar’s Jamaican heritage which sparked past collaborations with reggae singers originating from his home country. “You’re my saving grace, grace, grace” echoed throughout the auditorium. A 10/10 start to a concert that continued to be a gift that kept on giving.
Let Me Go
“Ain’t gon’ sleep tonight,
my dreams exhaust me,
I’ll be awake ‘til the light”
Initially, these lyrics felt relatable: I thought Caesar was talking about H2 subjects. Though obviously, Caesar and I were referring to two vastly different things. Personally, I was reminded of my overdue assignments when I listened more intently. Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone to a concert impulsively on a school night. In fact, I had seven lectures due that day.
Anyway, here, Caesar was referring to becoming impatient with his partner and wanting to leave. This song might resonate with those who have commitment issues.
Clearly a fan favourite, ‘Let Me Go’ is one of Caesar’s top 6 most-streamed songs. Elegant was a gross understatement to describe Caesar’s voice. The usage of his own voice as backing vocals, combined with his impeccable range, made this song a conventionally superb listen. Go have a listen, and if you enjoy this song greatly, I’d recommend ‘do you light up?’ by indie Los Angeles based singer, Dijon, ‘Self Control’ by Frank Ocean, and ‘Waste’ by BROCKHAMPTON.
Entropy, Open Up, Valentina, Violet & Cyanide
Apologies for generalising songs which deserve individual praise. Backed with an R&B-inspired beat, sultry tones and, well, “interesting”-looking visuals, these few songs are great to recommend to your crush. When one listens to them, artists like The Weeknd, Brent Faiyaz and Xavier Omar come to mind.
Although the music was not particularly loud or dynamic, the crowd was certainly hyped up. It was a surreal experience especially because I enjoyed the dance music with people who had similar tastes. If you’re looking for obscure R&B/Soul infused songs with unique beats, do listen to ‘Breathe’ by Sam Willis and ‘Lustre’ by Jiwoo.
‘Unstoppable’ was specially dedicated to Caesar himself. Expressed as his favourite song that he has ever written and/or performed, his devotion to songwriting was clearly displayed by his gassed-up performance.
The last track of Caesar’s latest album ‘NEVER ENOUGH’, this song happened to be a freestyle recorded in Jamaica. Aligning with the album’s overall message, Caesar hinted towards overcoming his feelings of inadequacy via powerful lyricism and a much more confident spirit. Check out ‘Kids’ by Childish Gambino or ‘Mirror’ by Kendrick Lamar for a similar sound.
Sparks & Swallowed in the Sea
Caesar paid homage to Coldplay, whom these songs were originally performed by, when he played these songs live on stage. The crowd swayed along to the beat with their mobile phone flashlights. As I took a panorama of the sea of lights, I couldn’t help but feel at peace.
The sound of live acoustic guitar and bittersweet lyrics were a great addition to the concert despite these songs not being one of Caesar’s own discography. They were perfect for concert-goers who came with their romantic partners.
Please Do Not Lean (feat. BADBADNOTGOOD)
A personal favourite: this collaboration with progressive jazz fusion group BADBADNOTGOOD tempts you to find the lyrics from Genius Lyrics (an online music encyclopaedia) so you can sing along. Caesar’s plea accompanied by a piano arrangement and Mac Ayres inspired drum beat becomes a soul-searching experience for every listener.
This song encapsulates the situation in which one has to figure out oneself’s life, before accommodating others’ needs— a message that should be heard by those overwhelmed with what they have on their own plate (I hope you are doing okay).
Even though it is something like an anti-love song, it still feels hopeful in the sense that Caesar will eventually find his way—”Please understand, I’m just a man that nearly figured out his master plan”. Although the romantic aspect is not really relatable to most 17-year-olds, the notion of being too unstable to open up to people might just be a universal experience before you get to really know yourself amidst the difficulties of life.
If this is your jam, melancholic tracks which lie on the same plane as this song include: ‘people’ by boy pablo, ‘Numb’ by Men I Trust and ‘Heavy’ by The Marias.
Best Part & Get You
Featuring H.E.R. and Kali Uchis respectively, these two sensual love songs were mandatory to be included in the concert setlist. Amassing around 2 billion streams in total, these two songs were proven to be Caesar’s best work. The audience was the loudest here as Caesar prompted the crowd to sing along.
The inclusion of the aforementioned female R&B/Soul artists was very much deliberate. Harmonising with H.E.R. and Uchis’ higher-pitched and masterfully controlled head voices, Caesar took us to a Los Angeles summer day. These songs were basically sweet escapism in the form of music.
I’m definitely biased, but I was pretty sure that 100% of the audience enjoyed the concert as much as I did. However, a good handful were slightly disappointed when Caesar left the stage in a seemingly abrupt manner without performing his break-out song ‘Japanese Denim’. ‘Japanese Denim’ is an all-too-famous song that every Caesar fan knows. They might even scoff at you if you tell them it’s your favourite Caesar song knowing how popular and mainstream it is.
“‘Japanese Denim’, really? Do you even listen to Daniel Caesar?”Every Daniel Caesar fan, probably
That aside, Caesar impressed the audience by including an unreleased track that he had written 8 hours prior to the concert.
Aesthetically pleasing visuals, a talented performer and an engaged audience—what more can you want from a concert? With Caesar’s clear love for music, it’s quite impossible to be let down by any piece he creates.