The Troubadour drips with music history. Synonymous with Elton John’s U.S. debut in 1970, this club nestled on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood holds an undeniable role in stories like that of the Rocket Man.
And artists that transcend the constraints of what thought possible with music and performance in this club builds upon its history. Enter MAX — a New York native that knows how to command an audience.
Integrating an extensive knowledge of music, dance and acting into his live show, MAX brought hypnotic energy and onstage theatrics unlike many surface-level contemporary pop artists at his headlining L.A. show during “The Intimate AF” tour on July 1.
Before stepping onstage, the accents of yellow — a color MAX associates with his experience undergoing vocal surgery and returning to music after not being able to speak for four months — from the flowers laying on the instruments to his microphone stand set forth a visually electric precedent.
Alongside band members Benny Brown and Ryan Siegel, also known as RyanEXOE, MAX outfitted in a black and white plaid suit with a yellow button-down peeking through erupted onstage into a set of 14 songs spanning across his LP, EPs, collaborations, remixes and covers — all while full-out dancing, doing cartwheels, interacting with the audience and beautifully executing each note with seemingly no restraints or lack of energy.
Opening the set with DJ Whethan’s 2016 track “Savage” that MAX is featured on, the electrifying waves of bass projected across the club and transmitted an undeniable party-esque atmosphere that the audience resonated with through lyrics being continuously screamed back at MAX.
As the set continued, each track with its individualized dance-pop sound and underlying elements of rhythm and blues effortlessly translated from his recordings to his dynamic live performance. And occasionally amalgamating prominent hip-hop, pop and R&B songs like Ginuwine’s “Pony” and OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson” into the set, MAX brought his distinguishable sound and new energy to these already anthemic songs.
Proceeding to perform the then-unreleased track “Acid Dreams,” fellow musician and Connecticut native Felly came onstage for this hopelessly romantic and soulful track with elements of groove and funk that was officially released on July 19.
Immediately following Felly’s guest appearance, MAX introduced singer and Michigan native Quinn XCII outfitted in a yellow baseball cap and Adidas T-shirt to perform arguably one of his biggest hits thus far “Love Me Less.”
“I had a surgery where I couldn’t use my voice for four months, and this song being the first thing that I released right after that and you guys giving it love, and you listening to it and you being back with me made me feel so amazing,” MAX said onstage. “That’s why everyone is wearing yellow tonight. Thank you if you’re wearing yellow — that’s what this whole album is about.”
The hints of yellow amongst the sea of dark, muted colors in the audience further showed how MAX’s integration of his personal struggle into his music continues to resonate with his audiences and how they continue to feed off of his vulnerability and personability with utter compassion and support. Transcending superficiality and creating a more in-depth relationship between himself and his audiences.
As this pop track with an intense underlying message dwindled and the shock of excitement in the audience from the guest appearances continued, the collaborators hugged onstage before Quinn XCII broke into remarks about MAX as an artist and overall human.
“[There’s a lot of people] you get to meet in this industry and a few people you get to call genuine friends. This is a genuine friend of mine,” Quinn XCII said onstage, pointing to MAX.
Caught in the whirlwind of adrenaline of guest performances and anthemic tracks, the atmosphere calmed as MAX performed the heartfelt, melodic track “Lights Down Low” that he wrote for his wife Emily Cannon who was in attendance while members of the audience held up yellow roses.
Resurging the energy after pulling on the audience’s heartstrings, he left all caution behind and immersed himself into track “Gibberish.” Climbing the side of the stage and passing the mic to the first few rows of fans in the audience, the show ended in a fast-paced blur of exhilaration while keeping a watchful eye on where MAX’s next move might be.
Leaving an impression on The Troubadour stage, and all who were there to witness it.
- Savage (Whethan feat. Flux Pavilion & MAX)
- Holla (with “Drop It Like It’s Hot”)
- Ms. Jackson (OutKast Cover)
- One More Weekend (with Audien)
- Basement Party (with “Milkshake”)
- Still New York (feat. Joey Bada$$)
- Satisfied (Galantis feat. MAX)
- Acid Dreams (with Felly)
- Love Me Less (feat. Quinn XCII)
- Sax on the Beach (Party Pupils — MAX and RyanEXOE)
- Pony (Ginuwine Cover) (with “California Love”)
- Lights Down Low (feat. gnash)
- Mug Shot
- Gibberish (feat. Hoodie Allen)