Sessa at the Doug Fir - 02/09/2020
For the first time in his touring career, Sessa, the mononymous Brazilian singer/songwriter, came to Portland to share his enchanting melodies with an eager audience. Performing original songs from his critically-acclaimed debut release, Grandeza, as well as a handful of covers, Sessa filled the Doug Fir basement with an intimate and warm energy on a cold February night.
Before Sessa took the stage, Rum River Cult served as an opening act, and was able to thaw out the crowd via a number of high-energy songs. Mid-set highlights included a blistering rendition of Fuck It, found on their 2019 self-titled EP, as well as an unknown heavy jam which preceded it. Sarah Parson's low vocals were a constant force throughout the performance, and Jed Overly's rhythm changes characterized the band's unique song structures.
Sessa and his modest backing band (a percussionist and three singers) then filed onto the stage and gathered under dim red lighting. Though the Tropicalia era in Brazil peaked decades ago, the Sao Paulo native played as if he still lived in the midst of its heyday, strumming away on his nylon-stringed guitar while crooning his soft ballads. The audience swayed to the rhythm, but stayed silent, as if they were concerned with disturbing the hushed ambiance. Though the overall vibe was mellow, there were moments of excitement within Sessa's set. The performers built Tanto up towards a noisy crescendo, and eventually elated whoops from the crowd began to erupt. Those moments of dissonance, however, always regressed back to a calm mean, and songs like Lingua Geral as well as the title track were memorable standouts. Overall, Sessa's first stop in Portland was a success, and based on audience reaction, he would be welcomed back soon.