Keshi Goes To ‘Hell & Back’ at The Rady Shell At Jacobs Park Thoughts+Photos: Keshi, No Rome & James Ivy at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park 4/10/23
SAN DIEGO, CA– Less than a year after his sold-out “HELL/HEAVEN Tour,” Keshi (stylized ‘keshi’) is back in San Diego for another world tour, the “Hell & Back Tour.” This tour is much larger in scale than his last one– with bigger venues, more dates, and new openers. When the tour dates were announced, I was pretty surprised. I thought that Keshi would release another album or EP to pair with this tour or go back to the studio. Therefore, coming into this show, I was definitely interested in seeing how Keshi would differentiate this tour from his last.
Keshi, born Casey Luong, has been one of my favorite artists for a long time. I first took note of his music when he released his first EP, The Reaper, and I’ve seen him perform four separate times since then. The last time I saw him perform was at his last-minute performance at the Head in the Clouds Festival in August 2022, but that set was a repeat of his “HELL/HEAVEN Tour,” so I was excited to catch him in San Diego.
Like his “HELL/HEAVEN Tour,” Keshi’s show at The Rady Shell At Jacobs Park featured two openers, the first of which was James Ivy. Before the show, I had no idea who James Ivy was, but his performance was definitely a treat. Ivy, from New Jersey, makes music that is simultaneously grungy and dreamy. He is one of the up-and-coming names for Asian representation within the rock genre, and I think that his performance at The Rady Shell brought him a ton of new listeners. He played various songs from his discography, including songs from his new album, Everything Perfect. My favorites were “Last Star” and “L-trip.”
Overall, Ivy’s set was full of good vibes. The crowd, even though they weren’t necessarily familiar with his music, swayed to the beat and held up their flashlights. Keshi always picks excellent openers, and James Ivy definitely did not disappoint.
Follow James Ivy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The second opener, No Rome, was surprisingly good. After hearing from some of my friends who saw him in LA that he was a great performer, I was anticipating something special. And honestly, it was special. Opening with “All up in my Head,” No Rome– or Guendoline Rome Viray Gomez– brought out the energy. As I watched his performance, which included songs such as “Trust3000” and “Seventeen,” I questioned why Gomez didn’t have more attention. Not only could you tell how talented of a producer and musician he was, but he also proved that he was a great performer who could captivate the audience. I will definitely listen to his music and follow his success in the future.
Follow No Rome on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Unlike his last performance in San Diego, which was at The Observatory North Park, a super small venue that held 1,100 people, Keshi performed at The Rady Shell At Jacobs Park, which has a capacity of ten thousand. Even though the venue was 10 times the size of his last one, he did not have any trouble captivating the audience and filling the venue with energy.
Luong’s almost two-hour set started with a mixed version of “blue,” which set the tone for the entire performance. I just want to go on record and mention that the new mix of “blue” literally gave me chills. Pairing his signature falsetto with electric guitar and flashing lights, it was the perfect way to signify to the audience how far he has come as an artist, from his first EP to now selling out large venues.
His performance consisted of 23 songs, spanning his entire discography. Most of the songs that he performed were past releases, but he teased the crowd by singing his unreleased song, “Kiss Me Right,” which was produced by Madeon. Since he wasn’t necessarily showing off a new album or EP, he was able to choose a setlist where his old hits flowed into his recent releases as well as play songs that he hadn’t performed in a long time, such as “atlas,” “B.Y.S,” and “i swear i’ll never leave again.”
Throughout the concert, it was clear that Keshi had matured as an artist and musician. Even compared to the last time I saw him at Head in the Clouds, the difference was night and day. His stage setup, which featured a large LED screen, added to the ambiance of the performance with stunning visuals and lights that complemented his music perfectly. Furthermore, it was clear that his confidence had improved with every show that he performed. He playfully bantered with the crowd, telling them, “if you’re cold, don’t ask me to take my shirt off!” (He did take off his shirt that night. It was +55°F.)
The clear highlight of the night was when Keshi performed “Limbo.” The song was released in 2022 with Gabriel but recently blew up on TikTok, with over one million videos using the sound. Instead of performing it like the studio version, Luong added a new twist by playing his acoustic guitar and changing the melody with additional flourishes.
No matter how big the venue, Keshi is able to fill it up with dedicated fans. To close the concert, Keshi performed “2 Soon,” a track expressing the regret and longing for a lost relationship. The audience sang along to every word, and Keshi left the stage to thunderous applause. It was a beautiful moment that perfectly encapsulated the emotional journey that Keshi had taken the audience on throughout the night.
It’s heart-warming to see how far Keshi has come. In less than a year, Keshi has gone from playing in venues with a capacity of less than two thousand to selling out venues like The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and Radio City Music Hall in New York. It just goes to show the amazing talent that is Keshi, whose performance was a captivating blend of musical talent and emotional depth that left crowds feeling moved and inspired. Keshi’s talent as a singer and songwriter is undeniable, and his ability to connect with his fans on a personal level is extraordinary. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Follow Keshi on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.