After a year-long hiatus from shows of any significant capacity, I have no words to express how amazing an experience Dream Rocks was.
Throughout the past year I have covered less than 10 events, which all had very limited capacity or strict seating rules implemented; whereas, pre-COVID I was covering roughly 3 per week. While it was amazing to be able to experience live music during such challenging times, nothing compares to the feeling of a real gathering for a show.
This show was particularly special to me because I have been saying for over 4 years now that I want the first show I attend at Red Rocks to be a ZHU show. The night surpassed my expectations.
Since emerging from the underground in 2014, ZHU has brought a cinematic sense of world-building to his music. In all of his output, the GRAMMY® Award-nominated musician/producer explores eclectic genres with equal parts confidence, ingenuity, and sophistication of taste, revealing his incredible power to execute his most extravagant vision with precision and originality. Born Steven Zhu and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the lifelong musician made his debut with “Moves Like Ms. Jackson”—a 2014 release that drew widespread attention despite ZHU’s deliberately concealing his identity. Two months later, he dropped his debut EP, THE NIGHTDAY, and soon earned a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Dance Recording for his breakthrough single “Faded.” Arriving in 2016, his debut album GENERATIONWHY found ZHU illuminating his emotional life to a greater degree, in part by adding more of his lithe vocal work to the album’s channeling of desert psychedelia. ZHU continued that sonic exploration on his sophomore album, RINGOS DESERT, a 2018 effort featuring guests like TOKiMONSTA and Tame Impala.
As his profile has risen over the past few years, ZHU has passionately pursued his interest in fashion, playing an essential part in the design of his fashion-forward merch. With ambitions of including a runaway at upcoming live shows, ZHU aspires to shed light on the left-of-center sensibilities of the more daring corners of the electronic-music world in all aspects of his artistry.
In 2020 ZHU released the single “ONLY” with Tinashe, teamed up with Bob Moses on “Desire,” and collaborated with Kito & Jeremih for “Follow.” In September he released “Risky Business,” which came alongside a mysterious video that is a piece of jumpy surveillance footage from an experiment known as Project #20201. ZHU joined forces with 24kGoldn on the recent single “I Admit It.” Watch the official video, which includes runway models flaunting ZHU’s fashion line, here. ZHU has been staying busy participating in livestreams for Digital Mirage, Insomniac and Lollapalooza. Additionally, he has launched partnerships with Luminosity and Leica.
ZHU’s 6-night-long marathon “Dream Rocks” was named as a spin off of his recent album released, Dreamland, and the venue’s name, Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Dreamland premiered right before Dream Rocks began. Touching on the album’s release, Zhu stated, “I’m excited to share this next body of work with everyone as the world starts to move once again.” On the album, there are features from artists such as Tinashé, Yuna, Channel Tres, and more.
Of all the tracks on the album, my personal favorite is Blue Dream. I feel like it’s a perfect blend of new and old ZHU, made with traditional deep house bass and futuristic IDM elements. I love when artists are able to keep a familiar part of them in their sound yet implement new styles and methods which demonstrate a balance of growth and character consistency.
Located in Morrison, Colorado, the historic venue is built into a rock structure. The property was originally bought in 1927, with its construction starting in 1936, to open to the public in 1941. The structure creates an extremely unique experience that could only be described as magical. This amphitheatre of sandstone sits at the base of a valley, with the crowd seats rising with the flatiron rock structures that decorate the sidelines of the venue. From the audience you have a great view of the show, nature, and surrounding city lights behind the stage.
Each show had a different featured opening artist, such as Manic Focus, Marvel Years, Kill Paris, OG NIXIN, and more, to warm up the crowd. For night 6, which I attended, OG NIXIN heated up the stage with a super solid house set. I couldn’t help but wonder if he dropped SIDEPIECE’s “Temptation” as a happy birthday to Nitti Gritti, who was also in attendance for the show, or as hype for the duo to make their Red Rocks debut the following night. Either way, OG NIXIN had the crowd feeling themselves and surely hype for ZHU to follow.
During the intermission the billboards displayed a QR code for fans to scan to receive a free community NFT, along with the message the NFT art previewed on accompanying screens. When accessing the link there was a different NFT design per each night of Dream Rocks. The QR code also included an invitation to the “ZHUMAN community”. The community will be for fans, revolving around NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
“The fans have shown up so hard these last two weeks at Red Rocks. I’m excited to give something special back to them while also making sure all of my Zhumans worldwide can be a part of the community we’re building,”
About the NFT Drop
Welcome to the Zhuman NFT community. Beginning with the Dreamrocks NFT Collection exclusive to Red Rocks concert-goers, an open Zhuman Community token is also available for fans worldwide. The NFT Community Collection from ZHU is being issued by Night After Night and Yellowheart. These releases make ZHU the first artist to build a fan community by issuing free community tokens tied to a live experience. DREAMLAND 2021 is now available worldwide on all streaming platforms. NFTs designed by Shane Fu for Night After Night.
“With this offering ZHU is setting the tone for how artists should enter the space and use NFTs to create a fan-first model that establishes a long term direct-to-fan pathway,”
Casey McGrath, CCO of Night After Night
ZHUMAN Community Token OPEN EDITION
Fans of ZHU worldwide can register to receive an open Zhuman Community token at https://www.yellowheart.io/zhu. The Zhuman Community token will grant holders access to exclusive content and events to be announced in the coming weeks. ZHU adds, “The fans have shown up so hard these last two weeks at Red Rocks, I’m excited to give something special back to them while also making sure all of my Zhumans worldwide can be a part of the community we’re building.” All Zhuman Community tokens will begin minting in the coming weeks.
DREAMROCKS Community Token OPEN EDITION
DREAMROCKS community tokens are exclusively available to attendees to commemorate joining us at Red Rocks. With these tokens you are the foundation of the Zhuman NFT Community. You will be able to relive special moments from the show(s) you just attended along with enjoying the benefits of the Zhuman NFT community for the very first time. All DREAMROCKS tokens will be minted and issued on Saturday, May 15th at 1PM ET. Available for 48 hours only.
Following a timely stage change, it was finally headliner time. Suddenly, lots of fog machines kicked in, creating an eerie essence on stage. Lights began to blare, and the instrumentalists took the stage.
Opening with tracks such as Came For The Low and Blue Dream, it was clear ZHU was ready to put down an epic finale for fans experiencing the last night of Dream Rocks. Accompanied by a guitarist, saxophonist, and drummer, the supporting instrumentalists brought the amazing element of live music to perfectly compliment ZHU’s other-worldly production and cooing vocals.
The set was a flawless curation of his hits, previous works, and his new album. In addition to his own tracks, the group performed several covers of classic rock songs as incredible transitions throughout the night. One of the most noticeable of these moments was using a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir to lead into ZHU’s deep house and thrash-like EDM hit Dreams.
Leading up to his finale, as if the night could not have been topped off, a woman’s silhouette appeared on one of the supporting LED boards making up his stage. Slowly she became alive, moving away from the LED board, and the crowd realized that it was none other than pop queen Tinashe.
Entering the spotlight to perform her and ZHU’s latest single ONLY, they had an extra treat in store for the crowd. The duo went into a cover/remix performance of Tinashe’s legendary single 2 On.
Their rendition has stayed stuck in my head, and I hope they release it one day. As Tinashe took a bow and departed from the stage, ZHU went into one of his most beloved tracks, Working For It. Taking a bow, ZHU exited the spotlight.
As the show ended the audience refused to leave, insisting on an encore. ZHU and his crew returned to the stage to close out with Still Want You, I Need That, Zhudio 54, Faded, and a super special premiere of an unreleased track with Coldplay called High Power. The release date wasn’t announced, but all I can say is that I’m excited to hear it again.