Jacob Collier: 2023 s #1 artist to catch live at a festival, full stop.

“Come on, we can’t afford to be late to this one!” I exclaimed to my girlfriend, our hands interlocked, as I pulled her at a jogging pace to ensure I wouldn’t miss a moment of Jacob Collier’s set.

At Bonnaroo ‘23, I had two non-negotiable shows. One was Vulfpeck, who completely blew away my expectations. In fact, I’ve inducted that set into the unofficial official Yog Top 10 All Time Shows list. The second set I refused to miss? Jacob Collier.

For the uninitiated, Jacob is a 5-time Grammy Award winning musician and perfect pitch-having harmonious savant. He exudes creativity and positive energy, showcased via his radiant wardrobe choices and demeanor. Rumor has it that if you look closely enough, you can see the genius trying to escape his head through the fibers of his hairdo. Some say he’s a generational talent (Yog-endorsed), others say that he may be one of the greatest composers to ever live (also Yog-endorsed).

Watch him teach people harmonies. It showcases his brilliance and exuberant personality.

Before the set began I said to my partner, “while I can’t promise this one will top Vulfpeck, I can, at the very least, guarantee this set will be something unique.” I’m talkin’ italics unique. Heck, maybe even in a different color font unique.

Jacob burst onto stage and magic ensued. The crowd collectively grew amped, realizing Jacob was prepared to deliver the show of a lifetime. To kick things off, he got the crowd to match his vocal exercises, reminiscent of Freddie Mercury’s iconic show at Knebworth. Then, he began to harmonize the crowd by having different sections each sing a different note (#harmonizethehomies). Every single time I thought the show couldn’t get any more exciting or enchanting, it did. BOOM His AV started blasting colored lasers and he ran to go slam on the drums.

Watch Jacob harmonize the crowd at Glastonbury and tell me you don’t get goosebumps. Fun fact, on stage at Bonnaroo he said it’s the first time he’d harmonized an audience in a festival environment. “I was there” bragging rights for those that were in the crowd!

Jacob proceeded to play piano, guitar, bass guitar, standup bass, and the drums at an expert level, sometimes literally running between instruments throughout a song (talk about cardio!). As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he was also singing, balancing his energy and audio with his live ensemble of vocalists and instrumentalists, and was engaging the crowd to help sing, or create complex, syncopated clapping patterns.

Watching Jacob play was exactly that… we got to watch him play. I felt like I was invited into his living room where we were hanging out and he was putting all of his brains on display for us to enjoy together. Moments like when he said, “Hi I’m Jacob. What’s your name?” and the entire crowd yelled their individual names back at him, reinforced the playfulness of the environment that he cultivates and helped to free the inner-child inside of all attendees.

Something particularly profound about Jacob is his ability to create new interpretations of songs, challenging the status quo of tracks that we know and love. He presents what might feel like a sensory overload, where notes feel out of place (or all over the place), yet he always makes the music make sense, both to him and the listener.

Check out Moon River. I’m not even going to give an intro or any context… the song and video speak for itself.

Despite me (and most listeners) being a layperson when it comes to the technicalities of music and Jacob being a music theory trailblazer, there was no disconnect between artist and audience during the live experience. It was almost as if Jacob was translating his thoughts into music, then consolidating that music for the end-user to understand.

Enjoy his cover of Somebody to Love while live in Lisbon.

Remember my promise of the show being something unique? Well, not only was the show unique, (great call, Yog!) but I’ll take things a step further and say that Jacob Collier’s 2023 Bonnaroo set was my favorite set I have seen in my life, period. The performance left me speechless. I still can’t articulate my level of disbelief and amazement, even after having three weeks to meaningfully process what I witnessed and heard.

Jacob is only 28 years old — there’s still so much yet to come. While I’m not early on the discovery and appreciation train for Mr. Collier, I’m also not too late to the party. That said, don’t say I didn’t try to give you the coveted Yog heads-up 😉

Well, don’t just sit there. Grab tickets to see him touring worldwide. Thank me after you get your dose of goosebumps.

– Yog

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