Opening up for Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, Jarell Perry had quite a multi-cultural crowd to impress last Wednesday night. Despite his only band only consisting of someone armed with a laptop to play the beats, Jarell’s powerful vocals carried him through the night with grace.
Jarell combines the smooth, sexy vocals of ’90s R&B with the bass-heavy electronic music of today’s chillwave scene. You could tell at the beginning of his opening set that the crowd was heavily anticipating the start of the main act, Yuna. There was a lot of small chatter going on, and no one was truly paying attention. However, by the middle of the first song, Jarell held the audience captive. I’d love to believe that this was because of his impressive vocal range, comparable to that of Usher or Chris Brown, but his good looks definitely didn’t do him any harm.
Although this was not a concert to dance or rock out to, Jarell’s music brings a quite interesting atmosphere reminiscent of driving a car on a rainy day. The audience was swaying a bit, following the slow but intense beats, but most of the attention was not devoted to the dancing, but rather to enjoying the suave vocals.
Jarell brought just the right amount of energy to the stage. I wouldn’t expect someone of this genre to come out on the stage jumping and pumping up the energy of the crowd, but I enjoyed Jarell’s attempts at connecting to the audience. This involved a good amount of talking, explaining where each song came from, and what they mean to him personally. This didn’t always work, most notably during his performance when he attempted to have the audience repeat parts of a song back to him and was only met with silence. However, I think it’s safe to say that the audience enjoyed Jarell’s attempts to connect, shown by them singing “Happy Birthday” to his producer at the end of his set.
Though Jarell only had a short set of eight songs, he truly impressed both me and the rest of the audience with his genuine sweetness and impressive vocal skill. I’m excited to see where he is headed next, as he will be playing at SXSW this March, along with an upcoming EP to be released, titled “White”.
— Mikaela Moschella