Zhu is a master curator. His production, his music, and his distinctive style. Every performance is so incredibly unique. Zhu returned to Phoenix on October, 24th 2018 for another incredible lineup of songs from his new LP Ringos Desert. He did so well, Relentless Beats brought him back to the valley for an extra stop on is Dune Tour 2018. It was a packed show as people lined up outside the Van Buren in Phoenix, AZ to see him and Tokimonsta perform. His music draws in a fantastic group of individuals, full of energy and excitement. For a Wednesday night, this was an especially large crowd. The dance floor was buzzing with anticipation.
Tokimonsta was the opener for Zhu. This being her last stop on Zhu’s Dune Tour 2018, she did not hold back as she unleashed her progressive sound. She is a burst of energy, always smiling while she lays down her beats. Jennifer Lee (Tokimonsta) has charted a fantastic career over the past seven years. Playing at Lightning in a Bottle, touring with Zhu, and expanding her resume with a new LP Lune Rouge.
She faced some hard news in late 2015 when she was diagnosed with a rare neurovascular condition called Moyamoya. Only affecting roughly 1 in a million, Lee shared her experience with her fans, bringing awareness to this rare condition. A year later, after two main brain surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, Lee released Lune Rouge. In her bio, Lee describes the album as “a culmination of all the experiences I’ve encountered so far”.
I chose the title Lune Rouge, which translates to ‘red moon’, because I think people perceive it to hold ominous weight.
Her work has gained widespread recognition and her presence on the west coast serves as the perfect environment for her effervescent music. She brought that same bubbly personality to Van Buren and started off the night in perfect fashion.
His ensemble of instruments, the lights, and storyline. Everything from the stage prop Pyramids, to the intense lights display, give an ambiance of sophistication and class. Zhu goes to great lengths to portray an ominous mystic. It lets him stand out as an artist and each time he performs it’s been a completely unique experience. His first sold-out show in September, held by Relentless Beats at the Van Buren, was a mix between sultry and upbeat jazz melodies. This time he took a different approach. He started his set with a phone call. A woman wanting to buy a Zhu ticket, but the guy on the phone decided to mess with her. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.” It was quite hilarious. Then Zhu hit the crowd with a thunderous roar of bass and several bright lights. Let’s face it, he knows how to make an entrance.
Arizona, I dont think I have to ask it again, but…. will you join me in the Desert?
He kicked things off with one of his more notable songs, “Dreams”. Then he shifted into that sultry melody but this time, taking it deeper. With some high treble followed with some grungy low bass. It was a side of Zhu Arizona has yet to see. The crowd was soaking it in, people were cheering all the way in the back by the bar. It was a packed house. Of course, Zhu always incorporates live mixing into his sets. The saxophone and guitar player came out to play and they were spectacular.
They both stood in front of these towering pyramids that gave them this cookie cutter glow and the visuals were fantastic. Ringos Desert is a great storyline of songs about women, passion, romance, with the addition of heartbreak and loneliness. The LP contains a large number of talented collaborators, each making their own impact to his album. He uses imagery to bring his world to life for his fans. It’s more than just transitioning, he’s telling a story. He had quotes throughout his performance to set the tone for the flow of music.
Live Mixing Instruments on Stage
Iconic to his performances, he also had the guitarist and saxophonist battle it out for the crowd’s enjoyment. Again the performance was completely unique. They battled it out in front of this beautiful red pyramid and it was electrifying to watch. The saxophonist stole the crowd’s heart when he broke out Pink Panther’s theme song. They are both truly talented and it’s great seeing the collaboration between producers and musicians during a live set.
Of course, Zhu played some of his favorite songs off the album. “Stormy Love, NM,” “Desert Woman,” and “Save Me” to name a few. At about 11:20 p.m. Zhu walked off stage leaving many people to wonder if he would come back. After a few minutes break, he lit up the stage exciting his fans for his return. It’s kind of an odd thing to notice but just the act of them leaving the stage, allowed the crowd to shift and people to rearrange their spots.
As the music began, the people surrounding had stage changed. It was a whole new group of people to dance with. He brought in “Light it Up” a collaboration with Tokimonsta. It’s fantastic to see how he entices a crowd. He was so thankful and consistently through “Phoenix” verbiage in his music. Zhu is the main vocalist for most of his songs. He has this beautiful high pitched voice, that melt your eardrums. He finished the night out with some last moments of appreciation. You have to love an artist who takes the time to appreciate his fans. Then he made his exit, white lights expanding out into the crowd to signify the show was over.
Truly spectacular. Hopefully Zhu will consider Arizona on his next tour. Check out Ringos Desert for a taste of his music.