By Steve Carlson //
Toronto-area native and YouTube sensation Alessia Cara, 19, brought her soulful pop to The Fillmore last week in support of her debut LP Know-It-All, and the sold-out crowd was ready and eager for what proved to be a long and diverse night of music. The show featured no less than three opening acts, each with a completely different musical style from the others — truly a fitting lineup for the legendary Bill Graham’s former home.
First up was New York-based female rapper Leaf, who confidently hit the stage with a pair of dancers and later showed off the range of her talent by pulling out an acoustic guitar for a Justin Bieber singalong, which, unfortunately for her, fell a bit flat with the reserved crowd. Next was singer-songwriter Craig Stickland (not to be confused with the late country singer Craig Strickland), who stood and delivered a powerful set of soulful tunes with only the help of his acoustic guitar. And finally, there was Brooklyn soul-pop balladeer Kevin Garrett, who has toured alongside X Ambassadors and James Vincent McMorrow in the last year, arriving with a teddy bear look-alike in hand to serenade the audience with his own brand of smooth falsetto and downtempo, mellow pop.
With the stage clear for the night’s headlining act, Cara and her band arrived and proceeded to put on an energetic, hour-long set featuring every track from her debut album, culminating with the wildly popular single “Here” at the end of the main set. She paced back and forth across the stage like a caged animal, belting out her empowering hits with a confidence that went far beyond her age. But that’s not to say her youth didn’t show at times. When reflecting on the history of the legendary Fillmore, for example, Cara name-checked a few of the many famous acts who had played there, starting with … Coldplay. (She quickly redeemed herself with mentions of Jimi Hendrix and several others.) Thankfully, the appreciative crowd was more than happy to forgive her.
Four Pink Walls
River of Tears
Scars to Your Beautiful
Sweater Weather (The Neighbourhood cover)