Toronto-based, Zambia/Winnipeg native, LAVI$H went from opening act to headliner with his latest show at Toronto’s The Axis Club. SHIFTER editor Kevin Bourne says he showed signs of stardom and gratitude in his headlining debut
Tonight, a capacity crowd gathered at The Axis Club in Toronto’s Little Italy to witness a defining moment in the career of another rising Canadian talent. The energy was palpable as fans filed out onto the sidewalk, steps away from a cube truck equipped with LED screens playing videos of the man they came to see. A very nice touch.
The night marked the first ever headlining show for the now Toronto-based, Zambia/Winnipeg native, LAVI$H, capping off quite the whirlwind career over the past few years. After being discovered by Chubbs from OVO, he signed with Def Jam Recordings, released his EP You Made A Big Mistake, received a shoutout from Drake, opened for Jessie Reyez and DVSN, and performed at the Partynextdoor show in Toronto. Tonight, marked a major milestone for R&B singer-songwriter as he went from opening act to headliner in his own right.
Opening for LAVI$H were Toronto DJ DattaBass and Strings From Paris, a collective of classically trained string players who blurred the lines between classical music and pop, hip-hop and R&B. Formed by Grammy nominee Aaron Paris, the ensemble opened with classical pieces before ringing off hits from the likes of Frank Ocean, Ye and Drake, including “Headlines” which got the crowd singing along. While the performance initially seemed odd for the setting and appeared to lose some members of the audience at times with its length, others, who have an appreciation for real music, raved about their talent. Although it may have seemed peculiar to some, organizers should be applauded for taking a risk with such an outside the box kind of performance instead of going with business as usual.
WATCH INTERVIEW WITH LAVI$H
Then it was LAVI$H‘s turn to take the stage. He performed some of his biggest tracks so far, including “We Make Sense”, “Seventeen” and “Piano Man” as the crowd sang his lyrics back to him. Taking in his performance and the response from the crowd, LAVI$H is an artist to get excited about and people feel it. While his music sounded like it would translate well to the stage, whether LAVI$H would deliver a solid performance was up in the air. Well, he delivered. While his vocals weren’t perfect, probably due to being under the weather, overall, he’s a good live performer who projected confidence and comfort beyond his years. Unlike some performers his age, he has the ability to command the stage, engage the crowd, and perform with solid vocals (with no vocal track). Add to that his ability to write songs at such a high level and his humility, and he appears to have no ceiling on his potential. At the very least, an artist of the caliber and success of Daniel Caesar with the potential to go far beyond that.
If there was a theme for the night, it would be “gratitude” as LAVI$H took the time to thank those who helped him get to where he is today, from Chubbs and OVO, his piano player who inspired the song “Piano Man” and the Winnipeg-based producer behind “Seventeen”, to his friend Dave who hadn’t seen him perform live in 15 years and his fans. It felt more like a family gathering and celebration of him living his dream. It was LAVI$H simply saying thank you to everyone who helped him along the way so far, and us witnessing the rise of Canada’s next big musical export.
SHIFTER editor, Kevin Bourne, is a Toronto-based entertainment journalist focusing on music and film & TV. He was recently named one of 310 international voters for the 81st Golden Globe Awards by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and a Tomatometer-Approved Critic by Rotten Tomatoes.