Jessie Reyez is on track to become Canada’s next big star. Her 2017 debut EP, Kiddo, was arguably the country’s best breakthrough release of the year, the only tangible competition being fellow Torontonian (and 2018 Jazz Festival performer) Daniel Caesar’s Freudian. Reyez’s intense vulnerability allows for her to come through with some truly compelling tracks. Canadians were quick to note her potential, she took home the Breakthrough Artist prize at this year’s Juno Awards. With Reyez destined for imminent stardom, it only seemed right to have her headline one of the festival’s main outdoor performances.
“Tonight’s the first night I play with my own band!”, she announced with a big smile on her face. It’s been a long time coming for the Colombian-Canadian talent.
Along with her originals, Reyez has also experienced tremendous success as a songwriter. “I don’t even wanna sing this shit!”, she declares as she lets her penned UK #1 single, ‘One Kiss’ play to the thousands in attendance. This is undoubtedly the poppiest moment of the evening, with the singer opting for coffee house acoustic in lieux of stadium anthems.
Reyez’s energy can perhaps best be compared to an early Chance the Rapper; cartoonish yet sincere, with tons of clever lyricism to back it up. Such a sentiment is only further asserted when the singer busts out a cover of Chance’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses”
Covers were an inevitable move, if she wanted to make it to the expected hour and a half set length. Reyez’s Kiddo only clocking in at 20 minutes. Schoolboy Q’s ‘That Part’ and hometown hero Drake’s ‘Headlines’ were also thrown into the mix, each song taking a new life as Reyez flipped them. Additionally, fans were treated to a number of new cuts, including an irresistible soul selection titled ‘Apple Juice’.
Early into her set, Reyez took a moment to apologize for the vulgarity she plans to exude throughout the night. This was achieved in the best way possible, with F-bombs, sex talk, and twerking only covering the tip of the iceberg of the misbehavior she playfully displayed.
“I dodge dick on the daily, I know it’s funny but it’s true!”, she belts during her current single, the tongue-and-cheek ‘Body Count’. Reyez is an artist with plenty of quotables in her relatively refined catalogue, with this sticking out as one of the more memorable.
For every inappropriate moment of the set, Reyez made sure to bring compassion to shortly follow. Pro-femininity, mental health, and self-love are just a few of the more profound topics touched upon during her time on stage.
“If you’re going through a depression...know it’s just a lesson”, Reyez inadvertently rhymes to the audience of thousands before diving into ‘Figures’. A similar chant occurs ahead of ‘Gatekeeper’, having the crowd utter, ““The me too movement is not fucking new!”
'Gatekeeper' is skillfully written song about the double standards females must encounter in order to achieve higher levels of success. It may not be the most comfortable listen, particularly for families in attendance, but it is certainly an essential in her catalogue.
“[My] producer said if you want to succeed, you need to suck dick for a deal. Fuck the gatekeeper”, she explains of the record.
The night caps off with a solid encore, a second serving of ‘Body Count’ followed immediately by the bouncy trap anthem with enough bravado to give Cardi B a run for her money.
Reyez displayed a tremendous amount of stage presence throughout the duration of her stage time. If she can keep up at her current pace, we would not be surprised to see her selling out her own indoor show at a venue like MTelus within the next year.