From nursing to music full time, Casey Luong’s rise to fame under the stage name keshi is unusual but not unheard of.

Luong started his path in music as a way to try something new under an unknown alias. The first song he released on SoundCloud in 2017 was titled ‘if youre not the one for me who is’, a number about longing and heartbreak. Lacking solid support, he had set off for college and became a nurse instead of a full-time musician. Not wanting his name to be tied to his music project in the beginning, he created his SoundCloud page and gradually built a loyal fanbase.

Nearly a year after the release of his first full-length album, 2023 sees keshi gift fans with the Hell and Back tour.

With Friends Like These

A special occasion isn’t that exceptional without some special guests. James Ivy, Deb Never, Weston Estate, and No Rome — each one of them is making special appearances along the tour. On Tuesday, March 28th, James Ivy opened the night at Mission Ballroom in Denver. Each performer for the night stood in their light and owned the stage in their own right.

The acts all mentioned that they weren’t used to the elevation in Denver. That didn’t keep them from giving it their all.

James Ivy is a producer and singer-songwriter in his early 20s. The young talent got his start by teaching himself the basics and continued building his musical knowledge in college. With lyrics like, “new day, wake up, I’m trying,” Ivy breaks down walls with his work. He speaks of something we all generally keep to ourselves but feel deep down. The tunes pulled the crowd into a dreamy state that seemed to hover in the air. The consistent tempo drove the mood of the room, ramping the crowd up and down, provided the perfect warmup for the emotional sets ahead.

Up next was Deb Never, a unique artist undefined by age or gender, owning the stage among red and orange lights. The instrumentals and vocals clashed harmoniously, lighting a fire under our feet and in our hearts. Her performance of her newest track “Momentary Sweetheart” hushed and captivated the audience amid a dense, foggy backdrop. Never’s set began heavy and got the crowd ready to party, including moments of sweet interlude that brought the audience closer together. Time flew by for Deb Never’s spotlight. We were left with that feeling you get after a bitter-sweet breakup: no closure, wondering where we go from here.

Buildup to Release

keshi’s music can be described as raw, emotional, and romantic with tones that keep the listeners coming back for more. His catchy instrumentals and easy flow of lyrics leave a lasting impression. Gabriel is keshi’s first full-length album which was released on March 24th, 2022. Celebrating this year’s milestone with friends, family, and fans alike, keshi is spending his tour performing fan favorites and recent material. Some stellar lights and a special visual filter for the stage camera accompanied the vibes and music.

In addition to strutting some fan favorites, he performed his upcoming release, “Kiss Me Right.” He expressed to the crowd beforehand that he had been on the fence about performing it. With the song in question requiring a lot of exertion, the artist and his team were worried about the higher elevation affecting him. keshi took a deep breath, and he absolutely delivered. The live performance of the song generated frenzied excitement for the full release set for April 7th, which he produced alongside Madeon.

Spring 2023 marks one year after the release of Gabriel, and another 12 months bounding forward for keshi and accompanying friends. Hell and Back will soon make its last few stops, with the final destination being 713 Music Hall in Houston, Texas on April 17th alongside No Rome and James Ivy.

Photos by Sammantha Drake

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