Since witnessing ZHU’s debut performance at HARD Summer in 2014, I’ve seen him seven times in a row. Every time he made the decision to perform, there was always an intention to grow, elevate the performance. When he played at the Shrine in 2016, it was for the GENERATIONWHY album and the first tour he introduced his guitarist and saxophonist. By the time I saw him at Global Dance Festival in 2019, he had shed the veil and mystery of the project, his music could speak for itself.
Now, in 2021 for his DREAMLAND 2021 tour, the show has evolved into a full live spectacle. The combination of over five years of great music, brilliant live production and impeccable vision has taken ZHU’s live show beyond the typical CDJ and LED wall motif – although those are still there.
Starting with “Lost It” from his new album was a good idea. Such a bombastic opening of an album could just as well translate into a live setting, and set the tone for the rest of the evening. In addition to many of his hits throughout the night, ZHU was also peppered with live arrangements and covers of songs such as Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time”, Radiohead’s “Creep” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. While DJs themselves are no stranger to bringing in songs that aren’t “EDM” per se, in a live setting it certainly had a bigger impact. You could feel the energy of the crowd when, for example, the opening chords “dun dun dun” from “…Baby One More Time” came into view.
The live setting also benefited the set as ZHU was able to transition from softer, slower moments like “Blue Dream” to intense, grandiose tracks like “Dreams” featuring Nero or “I Admit It” featuring 24kGoldn, both banner moments of the set.
Beyond that was just the way ZHU behaved onstage, with The Weeknd’s swagger, musicianship and pop sensibility combined with Kanye West’s taste and fashion and the confidence of someone who’s been doing this a decade longer than he’s done. . .
Basically, if you’re in doubt about buying a ticket to a show on this tour, do yourself the favor of hitting that “buy” button.
— bbbunny🌻 (@elaineajay) October 12, 2021
— (@Maca_Smallz) October 12, 2021
— (@gustxvohernxndz) October 12, 2021
Photo via Joey Vitalari