Born and raised in Washington D.C., at the tender age of 22, Christopher Gallant – better known as Gallant – packed his bags after graduating with a music degree at New York University and moved to LA with the sole ambition of pursuing a career in music. Though the start of his journey echoes a rather familiar story, in the two years that followed, Gallant dropped his debut EP ‘Zebra’, got picked up by Mind of a Genius Records, made his monumental debut late night TV appearance, released his debut solo LP ‘Ology’ and went viral thanks to his breakout lead single “Weight In Gold”.
Though he’s seemingly achieved so much in such a short amount of time, one look at one of his sensational late night television performances – or even just a glimpse of his ‘In The Room’ series duet with none other than Seal –will confirm exactly why Gallant has been making uncontested waves for the past three years.
Having ventured down under to play Byron Bay Bluesfest, the LA-based artist made a stop by Sydney’s Metro Theatre to give his adoring fans the opportunity to swoon over one of the most notable new voices in modern RnB. After a commendable opening set from M-Phazes‘ 14-year-old soul protege Ruel, Gallant’s staple vintage living room stage decor was set and ready to welcome in visitors.
“Gallant! Gallant! Gallant!”, an extremely expectant Metro Theatre chanted in anticipation, as the shadows of Gallant’s three-piece band took to their positions. Between an antique lamp and grandma’s sofa on one end and a low-hanging pot plant on the other, the man of the moment casually strolled onto the stage. Drowning in cheers with a smile spanning from ear to ear painted on his face, the robotic synths of “Open Up” began to fill the room. At only one song in, the audience was already chuffed, bowing down to Gallant’s awe-inspiring falsetto and graciously taking the role of backing vocals on the hook. Holding not a single ounce of his dazzling voice back, “Jupiter” followed. Tagged with a crashing instrumental closer, Gallant’s acute vocal sliced right through the sonic commotion, sending the crowd into a flurry of rapturous applause.
“This is my first time in Sydney and you guys make me feel so welcome,” Gallant announced – a solemn greeting that was reflective of his withdrawn off-stage persona. Tearing through his debut album ‘Ology’, he gave us a pitch-perfect rendition of “Bone + Tissue”. Pacing back and fourth across the stage along with the weighty percussion and jolting synths, he stepped down off the platform and engaged with the crowd face-to-face as he and the audience belted the stark lyrics of the hook: “Sell me something I can use / to catapult my value”. Delivering “Bourbon” and “Talking to Myself” back-to-back, communal sing-a-longs kicked off right from the first note to the very last bar of each tune. With his skilful band upping the anti with swelling synth lines, emphatic guitar solos and thumping drum fills, you couldn’t pop the joyous bubble of pure elation if you tried.
Pausing for a hot moment, Gallant made use of his visibly aged sofa, took a seat and began quietly sipping on a cup of tea. It was a quirky moment that highlighted his knack for unpredictable on-stage theatrics and provided a moment to breathe until he leapt from his seat and powered through his most recent collaborative single, “Cave Me In”, “Miyazaki” and his stripped down cover of the Foo Fighters‘ timeless classic “Learn To Fly”. Drenched in a sea of hot pink spotlights and lightly billowing smoke, the opening drum line of “Skipping Stones” was strangled by enthusiastic applause as Gallant and his keyboardist embarked on the beautiful duet. From watering his on-stage pot plant to walking around the stage with his eyes firmly invested in a book, once again, we found ourselves completely absorbed in Gallant’s alluring unpredictability.
“Shotgun” soon followed, before the jubilant chorus of “Episode” wrapped itself around the audience and really got the crowd moving. Dancing back and fourth to the slick guitar rhythms, the melodious number demanded another collective sing-a-long. After “Percogesic” – visible only at the mercy of the dispersed flicker of a single white strobe light – Gallant was engulfed by darkness before thrusting himself into the light for “Talking In Your Sleep”. “It’s been such an honour being here with you guys,” he echoed, heralding the final performance of the evening. And just like that, over that measured percussive line and swirling guitar riff, Gallant delivered his most sobering performance of the night: a massive extended rendition of “Weight In Gold.”
With the burgeoning neo-soul revival and emergence of future RnB over the past few years, few would argue that Gallant’s dulcet falsetto doesn’t sit high and mighty above many of his counterparts. Though his quiet off-stage persona suggests an introverted nature, on-stage he’s a jarringly confident performer who’s unpredictability and unbelievably piercing voice sets him apart as a rare talent that – with time – may just develop into one of the RnB figureheads of our generation.
Photos by Jordan Munns.