Heading to Zhu’s New York City stop on his headlining Neon City Tour, I was really looking forward to the seeing the mysterious producer perform live. I was fueled partly by my enjoyment of his music and partly by pure intrigue. Not much is known of Zhu, as he’s shrouded his identity in anonymity ever since gaining massive popularity on SoundCloud, but I do know he’s an Asian American who’s flourishing in music, so I give him props for that.

I was also stoked to see Gallant, a 24 year old Los Angeles based singer, who is opening for Zhu during the Neon City Tour. When I purchased tickets to the show several months ago, I didn’t even know Gallant was opening, nor who he was. Fortunately, I stumbled across his R&B stylings while digging around SoundCloud and instantly became a fan.

When Gallant took the stage at Terminal 5, a solid audience was building up. Openers tend to be hit or miss, but I usually try to catch them as who knows if they could someday be superstars. There’s some self-indulged satisfaction (well, at least for me) of knowing you were on an artist before anyone else did. Gallant was extremely impressive live, as the man could flat out sing. He could hit a wide range of notes, often singing at a falsetto tone that not many artist could natural reach. His stage presence was also very entertaining and kept the energy level high throughout the performance, which injected a jolt into his R&B ballads . Gallant is a very active performer, moving and dancing like a man possessed by the music, almost reminding me of a new age James Brown. With so much talent, passion, and charisma, Gallant should be a recognizable name in music in the near future, mark my words.

After Gallant’s amazing performance, the room darkened for the Zhu. By then, Terminal 5 was jam packed, however the crowd was filled with a lot of underaged kids who were subdued by “party supplements”. I don’t mind that stuff if it doesn’t disturb my concert experience, but it’s pretty annoying when you have a bunch of sweaty shirtless bros banging into you while they’re moshing. Who the hell moshes to deep house music? Crowd aside, Zhu’s performance was solid, but it didn’t blow me away like I thought it would. I respect him for putting together a very detailed oriented show with live instruments, live vocals, and an accompanying video presentation, however I wanted more. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t connect with him as an artist. Zhu performed in a black wizard hood in the dark, so you could barely see any emotions. My favorite aspects about live hows is the ability to engage with the artist, but Zhu’s performance felt like we were just standing in a dark room while someone played music. I couldn’t see the same jubilation and energy that I saw with Gallant, so I felt like it was underwhelming.

Zhu’s stock is surely going to rise and hopefully he decides to enter the public spotlight because it’s only going to help me better connect with his fans. But Gallant though…. Watch a few clips from the show below.

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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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