Review: MAX was all about good vibes in Toronto

(By: Angela McLean)

With the spotlight on him, and his eyes on the crowd, MAX could not resist a smile.

“If you’re so happy to be alive this evening, make some noise,” he shouted.

The dance-pop singer from Hell’s Kitchen, New York, who packed Toronto’s Velvet Underground for the second time this year on Sunday night (Nov. 4), was met with more than just some noise. For a full hour, MAX and his fans joined forces to create the perfect party atmosphere with upbeat jams, great energy and good vibes.

MAX’s latest Toronto performance was part of his House of Divine Tour, which will continue into the new year in anticipation of his forthcoming sophomore album. Though he performed two of his latest releases – “Still New York,” featuring rapper Joey Bada$$, and the sensual “Worship” – the bulk of the setlist was pulled from his debut record ‘Hell’s Kitchen Angel’ and his EDM collaborations with Galantis, Audien and Whethan.

“My goal for every night is I hope people lose themselves in the energy [of the show],” MAX told us last year ahead of an opening set for friend and collaborator gnash.

His goal was certainly achieved.

Jumping out in front of a set of LED light-up screens flashing “MAX” and “House of Divine,” the vibrant performer kicked things off in full force with the club banger “Savage.” It elicited exactly the kind of head-banging response one would expect.

Throwbacks like “Holla” and “10 Victoria’s Secret Models” – complete with its reference to kissing a dream girl backstage in Toronto – were met with the most excitement, but there was no lack of surprises either. “Home,” a slower track with a poppy chorus, was edited to transition into a cover of Twenty One Pilots’ moody hit “Heathens.” MAX also had his DJ Ryan Siegel (RyanEXOE) join him up front to perform songs from their side project Party Pupils.

As the show went on, it was almost impossible to believe one artist could have so much energy. Hardly a minute went by without MAX jumping around the stage to interact with each side of the crowd. Perhaps the bold gold jacket he wore in honour of a fan’s edible gift – a cookie depicting the singer in one of his classic performance outfits – was the perfect metaphor for his on-stage persona: eye-catching, memorable and impossible not to like.

Prior to MAX’s headlining set, two emerging talents helped get the party started. Budding pop songstress EZI shed a light on mental health awareness with her song “anxious.” but made sure to remind fans to let loose and have fun. “Give as little fucks as possible tonight,” she suggested before performing her new viral hit “Dancing in a Room.”

EZI opening for MAX at Velvet Underground. (Photo credit: Angela McLean/Angela McLean)

Rapper Bryce Vine, who drew a remarkably large entourage of his own, hammered out 30 minutes of genre-bending singles like “Drew Barrymore,” which has garnered over 75 million listens on Spotify in less than a year.

Here’s one of the main reasons MAX is such an incredible performer: regardless of the size of the room he plays, he performs as if it’s his biggest show to date. You would have never guessed this show was in a 300-or-so max capacity venue – everything from his stage set-up to energy was evidently crafted with an arena show in mind and, continuing on this trajectory, he will get there soon. In fact, he will be getting a taste of that world in just a few weeks when he joins the North American iHeartRadio Jingle Ball tour.

“Toronto, Canada, I will always come back to you,” he promised at the end of Sunday’s show.

The countdown can be set: MAX will join Toronto’s Jingle Ball headliners The Chainsmokers, Khalid and Dua Lipa at Scotiabank Arena Dec. 2.

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