Devon Gilfillian and friends aim straight for the heart at Brooklyn Bowl - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Thursday night at Brooklyn Bowl was a family affair for Morton, Pennsylvania-born singer-songwriter Devon Gilfillian and his younger brother Ryan Gilfillian. Devon, who is about halfway through his tour promoting his latest release Love You Anyway, remarked during his set that the audience was made up of about 90% friends and family. It was all good vibes in cheer for both the performances by the Gilfillian boys as well as the DC-based indie soul band Oh He Dead.

Ryan Gilfillian | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

The evening kicked off with a performance from Ryan Gilfillian – his playful banter set the tone for the night. He sang songs of bitter heartbreak after throwing “petty” shade to an ex who apparently did significant emotional damage. One of the coolest parts of his set occurred when he shouted out to his mother who was in the crowd beaming at her son. After performing a few original songs, Ryan went into a soulful medley of covers that ebbed back and forth between “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Rather Go Blind” – the backing band did a phenomenal job of melding the two songs seamlessly. 

Oh He Dead | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

Next to the stage was Oh He Dead. The lead singer CJ Johnson has vocals that demand attention: gruff, textured, and unequivocally soulful. If one were to compare her sound to Macy Gray, they wouldn’t be wrong. The group performed a beautiful set that included songs like “Is It My Love” and “Lonely Sometimes.”

And at the end of the night, the long-awaited headliner Devon Gilfillian took to the stage to perform a magnetizing set to an electric crowd. The fans sang along to tracks from Love You Anyway and older favorites like the title track to 2020’s Black Hole Rainbow. And it’s easy to be a fan of Devon since he has so much to offer: his musical stylings can range from 60s R&B reminiscent of Otis Redding and modern blues adaptations where similarities to the Black Keys can be found. Still, Devon has the ability to excel in the contemporary space with songs like “All I Really Wanna Do.”

Devon Gilfillian | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

Thursday evening was a beautiful homecoming for both the Gilfillian brothers and a wonderful introduction to the rising Oh He Dead. All three acts possess the ability to create meaningful and heartfelt music that is sure to hit you right in the heart. 

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