Last Saturday, I decided to go see Tobias Jesso Jr. at the 9:30 Club. It was an early show, so I thought “Hey why not? Could be a great way to start off the night.” Little did I know, his show would be my favorite of the fall.
Wet, an underground indie electronic band from Brooklyn, started off the night. I’ve been a fan of Wet’s nostalgic electro-pop for awhile now, and it was refreshing to hear they are better live. The trio’s friendship emit a certain energy on stage, and makes the entire performance feel like a personal concert in your best friend’s garage. They closed with their newest release “Weak,” which totally set the tone for Tobias’s set.
In between sets, the crowd watched at the crew swapped the sets, until suddenly we hear loud blasts of music coming from upstairs. The 9:30 Club has two levels, but this show wasn’t too packed so most of the crowd was on the main level. Our heads turn to see Tobias Jesso Jr.’s band, Duk, marching across the balcony to open the set. I was surprised by the size of the band; there was trumpet, accordion, saxophone, bass, and lead guitar. They continued to play, walk down the stairs and made their way to the stage. If you have listened to Tobias Jesso Jr.’s debut album, Goon, most of the songs are piano with seldom appearances of drums and guitar. The idea that he had an eight-member accompanying band indicated that this was going to be a night to remember.
Then all six-foot-seven of Tobias Jesso Jr. came onto the stage and sat at his keyboard. He played a few feature tracks off Goon to get the night going until he began conversing with the crowd. He began asking what songs we wanted to hear and completely diverged from the setlist altogether. At one moment, he and his band did a ten-minute cover session that included covers of HAIM, the Weeknd, and even D’Angelo. It was sensational to see this acoustic singer-songwriter from Canada just perform for the crowd and for himself. It was intimate perfection, and I believe why most people go to concerts in the first place; they want to feel closer to the artist who makes music that they connect with. He was drinking wine on stage, told us funny stories including one where he wore a shark suit on stage, and played every song we asked to hear. Plus, he sounded impeccable, and the addition of a full band added to the experience.
The entire show was goofy, friendly, personable, and both acts created an atmosphere that the crowd adored. Be sure to check out “The Wait” and “How Could You Babe” by Tobias Jesso Jr. and don’t miss him on his next stop in DC!