Last week, Asheville was graced with a very intimate show from the up and coming Canadian singer/songwriter, Tobias Jesso Jr at the Orange Peel. With a crowd of around 20 people, Jesso and his backing band, Duk, gave an exceptional performance consisting of instrumental jams, touring stories, and exceptional sounds.
After the release of his widely acclaimed debut album, “Goon,” Jesso took the indie internet world by storm with his early 70’s style songs, similar to the style of Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman, Goon showcased Jesso’s unique vocal and piano melodies with simple, but personable lyrics.
The show opened up with Wet, a New York City trio who dazzled the small audience with their lead singer’s strong soprano vocals combined with their electronic rock sound. Lead singer Kelly Zutrau familiarized herself with the small audience by asking almost every person their name and where they were from. “I love to make new friends,” she stated with eagerness.
With the small audience waiting anxiously for Jesso, the members of Duk surprised everyone with an impromptu instrumental performance in the audience pit, consisting of blaring saxophone solos, marching drums, and a accordion for good measure, Duk warmed up the audience by simply having fun. Immediately after the performance, the band began to play the theme to Rocky, providing a fitting introduction for Jesso, who walked on stage in a stylish leather jacket.
“We are gonna have a fuckin’ blast tonight, alright?” said Jesso as he and his band immediately dived into “Crocodile Tears,” a fast paced piano driven rocker. Members of Duk showcased their musical talents with each member performing a solo on their own instruments, including Jesso, who provided some comical, over exaggerated piano playing.
After a few songs, including the intimate piano ballads, “Can We Still Be Friends,” and “Bad Words,” Jesso introduced the members of Duk along with a rendition of John Mayer’s “Waiting On The World To Change.”
Despite being relatively new to performing live, 30 year old Jesso seemed to have no trouble at all interacting with the crowd. He even provided a short story on his musical beginnings, including his days as a session bassist and playing songs on the piano in his bedroom while working for a moving company.
After the story, Jesso and his band continued on with more elegant piano ballads, including his first written song, “Just a Dream,” and his first single “Without You.”
Due to the small crowd size, Jesso decided to play some songs that are not normally included on his set list, including the album B-side “True Love,” and a cover of the Godfather theme song.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who came out, we hope to be back in Asheville soon,” said a smiling Jesso as he began to play his final song, “How Could You Babe,” a track that gained the recognition of superstar Adele.
While the crowd may have been small, Jesso and Duk provided the Orange Peel with stellar vocals, eclectic instrumentation that took over the room, and a special mood of elation that had everyone in the building feeling the vibe.
Written by Jordan Williams