Caesar Serenades Brooklyn


Xin-Rui Lee

Daniel Caesar performed at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Nov. 22 for his “Freudian” world tour.

By Xin-Rui Lee, Contributing Writer

With a voice that washes away sin, Daniel Caesar transported us to his perilous rose-tinted world. Eyes closed while he clung to the microphone stand, his dedicated sect of hungry parishioners relished in every dip, tremor and heart-wrenching falsetto of his honey-warm vocals.

As a part of his “Freudian” world tour, the Torontonian singer-songwriter performed at the Music Hall of Williamsburg the night before Thanksgiving. Ten minutes before the doors opened, the line snaked around the block, eager fans huddled against the cold for the first of two sold-out New York shows.

Shooting to fame after the release of his critically acclaimed debut album “Freudian,” Caesar crafts saccharine love songs grounded in rich, sexy R&B beats. Folding in hints of gospel sounds that reveal Caesar’s heavily religious upbringing, he hits a sweet spot that appeals to the romantic buried deep within us all.

Opening the show was R&B singer Snoh Aalegra, who warmed audiences with her self-described brand of cinematic soul. Performing songs from both her debut EP “Don’t Explain” and her recently released album “FEELS,” she ended her set with fan favorite “Under the Influence.” Born to Persian parents and raised in Sweden, the songstress now finds herself based in Los Angeles — though her style and accent could pass her off as a New Yorker.

Donning white outfits complemented by all-white instruments and microphone stands, Caesar took the stage, his short set comprised of songs spanning his still-brief career.

“Question for you guys,” Caesar enquired between songs. “Yell really loud, only if you been fucking with me since ‘Praise Break.’”

The entire room burst into an uproar.

Referencing his EP released back in 2014, Caesar led into his performance of the EP’s first single “Violet,” which was written about a young woman he was once enamored with. This was followed by “Death and Taxes,” and then a string of songs from “Freudian,” including “Hold Me Down” and “Take Me Away.”

Caesar naturally ended off the night with a one-song encore of his most popular track “Get You,” which features Kali Uchis. The soulful ballad is hardly complicated. Caesar explained in a Genius video that it was essentially about being “really broke … and having a lot of sex all day all the time [because] there was nothing really else to do.”

But one can’t simply write this song off for its supposedly trivial subject matter. Caesar constructs and invites us into the world he’s built with his lover; this notion of deep honeymoon-phase mutual necessity can’t help but resonate with anyone who has ever been in or imagined love.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 27 print edition.

Email Xin-Rui Lee at [email protected]