The lyrics of Gallant’s latest album, Ology, are emotionally heavy, always on the brink of weariness. He seems weighed down, defeated, questioning context and cosmic significance. The classic contest between logic and feeling plays out, calculation versus instinct, and the words seem stuck in place.
On Wednesday night at the Bowery, though, that quicksand of abstraction disappeared. Gallant was a body unfettered by regret or doubt. He was all triumph, all movement. He was athletic and nimble on stage, whipping his limbs around, contorting his back, darting from side to side — all with a controlled mastery. His movement exudes a kind of elegant violence, like the best forms of contemporary dance.
All throughout the evening, Gallant’s stunning falsetto soared above the clattering drums, wall of synth, and, at times, booming bass. The fan favorites, “Skipping Stones,” “Talking to Myself,” “Bourbon,” and “Weight in Gold,” all elicited huge cheers, bursts of dancing, and sing-a-longs in the small, yet spacious room. He stripped down the Foo Fighter’s “Learn to Fly” in a gorgeous cover that began subdued and built with the force of his voice.
His set design evoked a cozy, throwback apartment: tall gilded mirror, orange upholstered arm chair, lamp with a thick shade, and two potted plants. At one point, Gallant flitted across the stage to water the plants as the audience gleefully cheered him on.
At the end of his set, he pulled up a girl tucked along the stage and guided her to the arm chair where a serenade ensued. Then, she was pulled to her feet and began dancing perfectly in rhythm with the song. It could have ended badly: a girl dazed by the attention and bright lights, filling with stage with awkwardness. But she grooved, and Gallant invited more people onto the stage until it was a mini dance party, with people smiling and bouncing, snapping and swaying.
It was a moment that perfectly encapsulated the evening: celebrating songs of introspection, cathartic words vibrantly embodied, human light that refuses to be extinguished.