Keshi brings ‘Gabriel’ to life at The Observatory Review & Photos: Keshi at The Observatory 6/17/2022
SANTA ANA, CA– As someone who has been listening to him since the release of his debut EP, The Reaper, seeing Keshi completely sell out his “HELL/HEAVEN Tour” evokes feelings of pride and appreciation for his musical growth.
On March 25th, 2022, Keshi released his first studio album– Gabriel– a 12-track record that highlights his versatility as an artist. Born Casey Luong in Houston, Texas, the 27-year-old is known for his delicate vocals and his lo-fi, indie-pop style. However, Gabriel experiments with different sounds and genres, such as the opening track, “GET IT,” which is an energetic, hip-hop-inspired track, and my personal favorite, “WESTSIDE,” which features his signature falsetto.
I last saw Keshi perform at the Head in the Clouds festival in November 2021 before the release of Gabriel, and while I enjoyed his performance, technical issues made it so that his voice was hard to hear, so I definitely wanted to catch him live at his “Hell/Heaven Tour.”
Keshi’s show at The Observatory featured two openers, the first of which was georgee, who only performed during the California leg of the tour. One of my favorite up-and-coming artists, I was happy to see him bringing some serious energy to the Santa Ana crowd. Showcasing his funky dance moves and catchy vocals, the Los Angeles-based artist performed songs like “baby4u”, “split”, and “hunny.”
georgee’s energy was infectious, and the crowd was extremely receptive to both acts. As he ended his set, teasing his new single, “tell me,” someone in the crowd threw a bundle of baby’s breath onto the stage. He exclaimed in pure joy, “This is my first-ever gift!” Even though he only has 3 singles out, georgee was able to electrify the crowd, which speaks to the bright future that lies ahead of him.
The second opening act, Rei Brown, then took the stage with a mixture of electronica-tinged, ethereal songs like “Honest” and “Forever.” He also played some recent releases, such as “Thinking Bout You,” a collaboration with Joji. The highlight of the Japanese-American singer’s set was the performance of his new single “White Honda,” where he brought out Lecx Stacy, a 23-year-old first-generation Filipino-American artist/writer/producer from San Diego. I enjoy discovering new up-and-coming artists, and I think that both Rei Brown and georgee were great additions to the “Hell/Heaven Tour.”
Keshi’s die-hard fans created an atmosphere that was a performance in itself. They were extremely receptive to the openers, and when Keshi took the stage with “GET IT,” they went ballistic.
Over the course of the hour and a half performance, he sang 21 songs, mostly from Gabriel, but included older hits, such as “like i need u,” “less of you”, and “talk.” Instead of performing the songs exactly like the track, Keshi highlighted his raw talent by changing the pitch of his voice and adding additional flourishes, giving the show a sense of vulnerability and rawness that clearly resonated with the audience, as they were singing every lyric with him.
Remembering the time that I saw Keshi at Head in the Clouds, he performed in front of almost thirty-thousand people in a festival setting. However, performing at a small, intimate venue like The Observatory enabled him to engage with the audience, eliciting a response like no other.
While he was taking breaks to drink water or set up equipment, the crowd would start barking and yelling at him, or his pianist, to take off their shirts. What was most touching to witness was the crowd’s response to his raw performance of “drunk,” where he pulled out his own guitar. They all shined their flashlights, softly singing the lyrics with him. As he closed the show off with “2 soon,” he blew kisses and gave high-fives to the crowd, who were so unwilling to leave.
Keshi has established himself as a musician with so much versatility, yet all his songs are connected in the fact that they are a reflection of his experiences and artistry, which is why they resonate with so many people from around the world. I’m sure that even in the future, if his music continues to evolve and change, fans will still love the artist that is Keshi.