If you’re asked which artists are pushing R&B music forward, you might answer with names like Maxwell, Miguel, and Frank Ocean. But after a very impressive (and sold-out) U Hall debut, you’ll probably want to answer with this name: Gallant. Born in DC and growing up in Columbia, MD, Gallant is a DMV-er through and through. He briefly acknowledged the fact, though the night was more about his music and less about his roots. His debut album, “Ology”, was released in April to critical acclaim, and he kicked off the tour in his hometown of DC.
So why should you look out for him? The first thing you should know is that his incomparable falsetto. Barely a song went by that he didn't utilize it, and one can't help but wonder how he was able to pull it off.. But for tonight, at least, his choir roots served him well. And when he hit those highs (and he always did), the crowd couldn’t help but erupt in cheers.
The second thing you should know is that he has an equally impressive stage presence. For someone rocking a frowning face on his shirt, hat, and album cover, he knew how to make people smile with his moves. Although Gallant seriously impressed with a falsetto, the real treat came when it went from intense silence to an all-out barrage of sound. When the rest of his band joined in, he took in the band’s energy as he wildly flailed around on stage.
The rest of the band impressed in bringing his songs to life, especially disco-influenced song “Episode”, where they got the crowd dancing. Each person threw in a few solos in-between verses throughout the night, including a crowd-pleasing drum solo where Gallant showed off his quick feet and threw his hand towel backwards into the crowd as he continued to command the stage with his moves.
Even with songs where Gallant lamented pouring bourbon in his coffee cup, those in the crowd smiled and held their loved ones close. He poured his heart and soul into every song. You could see it in his pained, expressive face and his relentless moves across the stage. During one of the final songs, he paused and closed his eyes as a sole spotlight shone on him.. As he stood on stage, eyes closed and face expressionless, that's when the realization came: Gallant is going places.
As the opener for Gallant, Eryn Allen Kane left a highly positive impression on the crowds that gathered early to get a good spot for the show. Getting the crowd dancing with a full band backing her up, her short-but-powerful set included an Usher cover and many moments of getting the still-building crowds to dance. Soul music fans (and fans of dancing in general) should not miss her next time she comes around DC. “Aviary: Act II” is currently available through 1552 Music.