ZHU Celebrates 10th Headline Performance at Red Rocks with SIDEPIECE and Hayden James

This summer, ZHU released the Musical Chairs Mixtape Vol. 1. Following the release of the album, there was a lot of talk about how ZHU was aiming to break the World Record for the biggest game of musical chairs – the current title for the world record took place in August of 1989 in Singapore, at an Anglo-Chinese School with over 8,000 participants.

For an artist that is so well known for his mystique and lure, it was a bit of a surprise to see a game we all know from childhood to become such a focal point of this project. This approach definitely contributed to the wonder-factor that surrounds ZHU, as fans were speculating what the purpose behind this fascination with musical chairs was. Before I get more into how musical chairs played into ZHU‘s performance, I need to make some honorable mentions for the talent that warmed up the stage for him both nights.

Night 1 – Hayden James

Hayden James was fantastic, to say the least! Making his debut at the historic venue, it definitely won’t be long before he returns to Red Rocks (I’d especially love to see him open for Rufus du Sol, or ODESZA, for another Red Rocks date). Beginning his performance with Waiting for Nothing, his performance highlighted his latest album release, LIFTED, and hits such as Favours. The Aussie talent has gathered a massive amount of support as he toured the world throughout the year, even landing several plays during Wimbledon this summer. This show was especially special, as he switched things up from his traditional DJ decks and traded them in for a pad that reminded fans in the crowd of Fred Again…‘s Boiler Room session – which was a crowd-pleasing-element for sure.

Following the show, there was more in store for the crowd! In celebration of the night, Hayden had announced an afters at Temple night club in Denver. Looking around the room, you saw fans decked out in merchandise from the show – clearly proving that the party followed Hayden from Red Rocks to the club. His club set was full of surprises that night! He rinsed popular tracks such as Delilah (pull me out of this), Sidewindah, and Smack Yo’, which matched the crowds energy perfectly. There was not a moment of the night that the room stopped moving, and nobody was ready for him to leave the stage when the set concluded.

Night 2 – SIDEPIECE

SIDEPIECE is no stranger to this stage by now, and this was without a doubt their best performance yet at Red Rocks. Opening their set with their latest release Reborn, it was immediately a party. As I spoke with attendees and friends, everyone shared the same sentiment that every time they saw a SIDEPIECE show, it felt like a huge party where everyone was invited – and fans love this vibe they curate!

They played out hits such as Don’t Keep Me Waiting, Together, 1 2 Step (Supersonic), mixed in with popular tracks like Drugs from Amsterdam, an edit of Miracle Maker, and plenty of unreleased IDs that had fans whipping Shazam out trying to figure out where they could save the tracks they loved hearing to their personal libraries.

As if the set wasn’t special enough, two fans decided to become serious, and become MAINPIECEs forever with a successful engagement.

Diving back into ZHU’s performances…

Before ZHU took the stage, there was an impromptu introduction to the performance on the screens surrounding the stage which featured messages ZHU had recently shared on Instagram regarding how creativity has suffered and quotes from icons about chairs such as:

I am, I said to no one there and no one heard at all, not even a chair.

Neil Diamond

Why bother choosing a certain chair? Because that chair says something about you.

David Bowie

Every chair should be a throne to hold a king.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

As the round of quotes came to an end, original messages from ZHU began to play. One that stood out to me the most was,

“In dreams, a chair symbolizes tiredness and instability.”

Photo credit: Jason Siegel @jsiegelphotography

Once I saw this quote, it was clear that the depth and introspection we’ve seen throughout ZHU‘s projects is carrying-on – especially with the follow up message reading

Not enough risks taken, creativity suffered.

Waiting for ZHU to come on as these messages played allowed a moment of reflection and thought. Clearly the chairs had a deeper meaning, that was very important to him as he wanted to share these thoughts with thousands of attendees. There was also a quote about chairs symbolizing loss, which I failed to capture but looked up, and according to Symbolism and Metaphors, “In literature a chair often symbolizes loss. But in dreams, chair symbolism is linked to tiredness and instability.” This made me wonder, has he suffered a significant loss in recent years? Is he expressing at how he feels like creativity has suffered loss on a macro-scale? What does, what looks like, a hundred chairs on stage portray symbolicly to him? ZHU‘s mystique lives on.

I was very curious to see if night one and two were going to be the same set, and was thoroughly excited that there were some switch ups between both nights. The similarity between both sets was in the introduction, with the first 30 minutes featuring tracks from the mixtape + banging hits such as Came for the Low.

Once things really set in, the direction differed. On night one, things took a heavy and darker path, while night two, I felt took a much more funk approach to the night. Performing alongside a band that featured live guitar, drums, and sax, added amazing elements throughout the night. All in all, it was an amazing weekend on the rocks brought to us by ZHU and his team! Check out some highlights from the performances below.

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