Yesterday's preview of ZHU's new livestreaming party, Club ZHUM, certainly fit its billing as an "afterhours virtual rave." With fuzzy, retro visuals broadcasting the producer from "inside" an old school television screen through Zoom, the performance was low-tech but high-energy, bringing us back to the dark, sweaty days of warehouse clubbing.
Grungy and exclusive, the set was announced in classic ZHU style through a cryptic Monday night Instagram Story and an email sent to fans just before it began. Only 500 made it from the waiting room into the stream on a first come first serve basis, where they were treated to unreleased tracks and suspenseful deep house grooves. There was also an exclusive link to a "Club ZHUM" T-shirt on sale only during the broadcast.
At the same time, it's obvious why many other artists have opted for more popular livestreaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube. The stream suffered from a half hour crash at its onset and was subject to audio and video lags, disrupting a smooth listening experience. The performance was also interrupted by fans eager to share their screens and audio with the crowd until management took back control.
Zoom did work well with the community-driven atmosphere so central to EDM. Viewers could customize their own names, with ZHU choosing to appear as "Z tr0n," and opted to keep their cameras on. Many sported special Club ZHUM backgrounds and merchandise from the artist, including face masks and the popular afghans from his 2018 DUNE tour. And, when the audio came through clearly, the deep house drops launched the audience into an on-screen celebration.
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Additionally, the platform's chat function provided a sense of togetherness and intimacy for super-fans separated by social distancing guidelines. Fans were reminiscing on their favorite ZHU sets, including his recent performances at Electric Forest, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and HARD Summer, and finding out if they'd crossed paths at his shows.
The second edition of Club ZHUM will take place on his better-equipped Twitch channel this Thursday from 9PM ET (6PM PST) to 12AM ET (9PM PST). ZHU is also set to release a new track, "ONLY," with Tinashe, this Friday.