Most of the pre-festival buzz on ChestnuTT's Thursday show was about it being his only in North American this year. And when his handler instructed us to refrain from clapping and to enjoy the concert as though we were sitting at a campfire in Africa, you understood why maybe ChestnuTT doesn’t get out much – he’s one eccentric dude.
Garbed in a sequined cape, alone under the spotlight, ChestnuTT informed us that he wouldn’t be playing anything from his bedroom-made sleeper hit, The Headphone Masterpiece, and instead would premier a conceptual song-cycle performance called the Live Release (that you cannot clap for till the end!), which turned out to be a beautifully composed 45 minutes of sparse, electric guitar-based soul.
ChestnuTT’s rich voice captured the audience and held on tight, playing every note with a disarming amount of passion. It was such a moving performance that when he finally signalled the end with a quiet “thank you,” the crowd absolutely erupted into a standing ovation, giving tangible meaning to his title, Live Release.