Lolo Zouaï: No Lows, Just Highs

Photo: Grant Spanier | Courtesy of Lolo Zouaï’

In order to get a really good understanding of Lolo Zouaï’s performance, we should analyze the current shifts and trends in the music industry, particularly the R&B genre. Over the years, R&B has gone from singing in the rain to get your baby-boo back to a newer, more modern sound. This modern R&B is full of angst and longing, and these feelings often fuel reckless behavior. When I speak of the new R&B, I want my readers to imagine a mix of Lana Del Rey and Sabrina Claudio. Essentially, I want my readers to imagine Lolo Zouaï.

Born in Paris, France, but raised in the Sunset District of San Francisco, Lolo Zouaï was born to be a star. As a kid, she would audition for solos in her school plays and play piano. Even though she hailed from a family of musicians, she was the first to pursue it professionally. At the age of 19, she hopped on a plane to Los Angeles and has been organically gaining recognition by dropping sweet bangers at her own pace. She’s been working hard in the studio with New York based producer Stelios, curating her current sound. She’s also currently on tour. I attended her concert at the White Oak Music Hall on May 2nd and she did not disappoint.

The doors opened at 8 p.m. and I was inside the concert venue by 8:30. After a 30 minute wait, the show started at 9:00 p.m. The opener for the night was Jean Deaux, who hails from Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Deaux wore golden, glittery bell bottom pants with an equally glittery top. The first thing I noticed about her was her electric blue hair, the second was her bare feet, seeing as how she wore no shoes. This made me nervous as how concert venue stages aren’t actually the cleanest out there. Ms. Deaux was lovely, but ultimately overworked. Her energy levels during her 30 minute opening set at times oscillated between hype and mellow, giving me mild whiplash. Despite this, I found her interesting and enjoyed her overall performance.

At around 9:30 pm, the lights faded to black, and Ms. Zouaï’s lights began to flicker. She hopped on stage wearing a yellow, checkered shirt with black tights and reeboks. Lolo Zouaï was dressed comfortable, yet chic. Her hair was tousled and was sort of slicked back, revealing her forehead and signaling confidence. She performed songs from her new album “High Highs and Low Lows”. As she crooned out the lyrics:

I can’t listen to the music, Oh, it makes me wanna cry

from her song “Here to Stay,” I realized just how talented she really is. Her voice is crystal sharp, and the way she maneuvers between different octaves is really fascinating. It was really impressive because she was also literally hopping from one side of the stage to the other.

The second half of the concert began around 10:20 p.m. She explained the vision behind the concert’s aesthetic. Lolo Zouaï is a DIY artist, and she provided the videos that played in the background during her entire set. She connected with the fans, telling them about her upbringing in California. Then she led into the song “Blue,” which she sings in French (another superpower of Lolo Zouaï). The transition to another of her singles, “Lose Myself,” was super chill, most likely inspired by lo-fi or chill hip-hop. Again, it was nicely executed. Before going into her hit single “High Highs and Low Lows,” she again gave us a little backstory into her life and talked about working retail. After quitting retail and vowing never to return, she wrote the song “Out the Bottle,” a song about freedom.

Lolo Zouaï is a very good performer, and her album is equally as good. My only hang up about this concert isn’t about Ms. Zouaï herself, but about the quality of the concert venue. The fact that there was no photo pit for such a small venue put a strain on me, her concertgoers, and my camera. Although their attempt at a more intimate concert experience was sincere, there were complaints from the concertgoers. Which is understandable, because they paid good money to be there and enjoy the show. Since concert photographers are only shooting for a certain amount of time, I think it’d be in concert venues best interest to have a photo pit for every show no matter how small the concert supposedly is.

Overall, Lolo Zouaï is a great performer, and a strong vocalist that, with practice, could easily become even greater. Don’t miss out on a chance to catch this firecracker on tour; tickets can be found here.

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