On Wednesday night (Nov. 21), Jessie Reyez stepped out onstage at New York City’s Irving Plaza to a full house.
Two hours after doors opened and moments before Reyez started her show, ticket scalpers ambled around outside the venue. “Anyone have an extra ticket? Tickets?” They were running out of time as latecomers brushed past, trickling into the sold-out concert hall.
There was a merch table on the right, where tour tees signed by Reyez were selling for $80. Upstairs, several college-aged girls had already put their shirts on. There were pockets of varying demographics: white girls from the neighboring NYU campus, older couples, young Latinx groups of siblings/cousins — this was the night before Thanksgiving, after all, and once Reyez began, it definitely felt like family at Irving Plaza.
In her Twitter bio, Reyez says, “I like to sing about sh*t I don’t like to talk about.” On Wednesday, the Being Human in Public creator stepped out in a fluorescent orange tour hoodie and cutoffs, ready to leave her whole heart onstage. She jumped right into “Dear Yessie” with her live band, and the crowd hollered their approval. Later, she shared that it would be her first time performing with her full band. “Your bitch gon’ look up to me,” she crooned. “I love when you look up to me.” It was the very first song, and fans were fully invested all the way through. “Unbothered! Impermeable!” they screamed.
Only two months since the official release of Reyez’ second EP, Being Human in Public, here she was jumping around onstage, selling out another show in New York. “Y’all ever love somebody who ain’t know how to love?” she asked earnestly. ”Aye… Y’all ain’t got no apple juice?”
Jessie Reyez is a sort of phenomenon. It was a year ago, almost to the exact day, that the Colombian-Canadian singer/songwriter sold out Bowery Ballroom. On this particular evening earlier this week, fans were especially liberated, screaming out affirmations and approvals at random. There was one guy doing a sort of overhyped two-step in the balcony to “F*** Being Friends.” After “Imported” and before jumping into her Spanish track “Sola” with an acoustic guitarist by her side, Reyez ran a check on the crowd. “You know my favorite line in that song? ‘I’m not from here, I’m imported,’” she revealed. “What I love about New York is the diversity, right? So how many people in here are immigrants?” Approximately three-quarters of the crowd cheered. “For those politically confused, how many of y’all are children of immigrants?’” And the building erupted.
Reyez has a different kind of relationship with her supporters, speaking to them all with an air of familiarity. For example, there was a moment on Wednesday where she gave specific instructions on how to set up a mosh pit: “If you have any injuries or if you’re pregnant, stay away from the circle.” At another point, she called for some meditation, and one fan in particular took full advantage of the opportunity to get her message out. “When I say ‘three,’ everybody take a deep breath,” Reyez said, then started. “One, two…” Then there was a desperate scream from the crowd: “I love you!” The singer doubled over in amusement, chuckling at the boldness of the woman. “I love you too, but shut up bitch!” she quipped playfully, and the mob let out a hearty laugh. “I love you too, bitch. I’m gonna count again. What’s your name? Okay. I’ma count to ‘three’ now.”
Later on in the set, Reyez switched the energy up. She dove into “Saint Nobody,” picking up a guitar by the song’s final refrain. “I still gotta practice my solo. Y’all like that shit solo?” she asked, with a defined lilt in her voice. Then she giggled and said, “I don’t do that solo at every show because I be scared, you know?”
Scared? It would seem that the singer ought to be fearless. She ought to be unbothered. For the past few years, Reyez has been winning — touring, creating and providing opportunities for others.
Before her set, Savannah Re opened the show. The Canadian songstress shared that Reyez invited her to perform at that sold-out Bowery show in 2017, and at the time she was working a desk job, doing what she had to, to get by. As seen on Wednesday night, Jessie Reyez has impressively carved out a place for herself in this fickle music industry, making her rise to the top remarkably impermeable.