Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, January 27, 2023 — Houston, TX

Review: MAX elevates House of Blues energy through the roof


Courtesy Michelle Gachelin

By Michelle Gachelin     11/30/22 5:39pm

Rating: ★★★½

Pop powerhouse MAX’s performance at Houston’s House of Blues on Nov. 10 was nothing short of electric. Although I was a relative newcomer to MAX’s music, I already knew and liked his songs “Still New York” and “Love Me Less (feat. Quinn XCII),” the latter of which was included on the setlist. 

Listening to MAX’s songs in advance was a good primer for the concert, but his stage presence was even more impressive than his vocal prowess on the studio recordings. He constantly danced and moved around the stage, and the crowd matched his energy. Although I didn’t know many of the words to the songs, I couldn’t help but dance, because it was clear that everyone was enjoying themselves. Most of his songs fall squarely into the radio-friendly bubblegum pop category, so they were ideal for people like me who were less familiar with MAX’s music and more interested in just having a great time. Also, it’s worth mentioning that we had access to the room’s mezzanine section thanks to the Thresher, and the view was incredible.

Even while essentially doing nonstop cardio for an hour, MAX still managed to hit every riff and run, and then some. He almost never sounded winded, except on “Love Me Less,” but was able to catch his breath during the slower songs that followed. He also made sure to engage the crowd, and tried on a cowboy hat for a few numbers before throwing it back into the crowd. 

I also enjoyed the show’s opener, Sara Kays. Like MAX, I was already familiar with a few of her songs — she’s experienced a relatively rapid rise in popularity after debuting her songs on TikTok a couple of years ago. Her vocals sounded clear and she seemed to engage the audience throughout her slower tracks.

Like many burgeoning singer-songwriters, Kays isn’t afraid to delve into sensitive topics in her music, and I appreciate her candor. However, I thought the choice to pair Kays’ mellower music with MAX’s dance tracks was a little odd since the two artists don’t seem to have anything in common. MAX brought Kays back onto the stage to sing Ali Gatie’s part in “Butterflies,” a smoother track that fit both of their voices and ranges well.

All in all, I may not be a new convert to MAX’s music, but I had a lot of fun jamming out to his songs. His energy was impressively high throughout the show, and he clearly enjoyed himself. The show was never boring, and he avoided the usual pitfall of pretending to leave only to return moments later for an encore. MAX is a solid artist and performer, and I’m sure he’ll continue to “Take Over” the airwaves with whatever pop hits he has planned next.

More from The Rice Thresher

A&E 1/24/23 10:26pm
Black Art at Rice: Akaya Chambers designs her future in theatre

When Akaya Chambers was twelve years old, she made her own Halloween costume — a steampunk TARDIS dress. It was the first time she had ever sewn, but she hasn’t put down her needle and thread since. In the years following, she discovered a passion for costume design and theatre on and off of the stage as a costume designer and actor, and on the page as a playwright. 

A&E 1/24/23 10:25pm
Review: ‘Five Easy Hot Dogs’ is a mellow road trip of soothing instrumentals

It’s impossible to understate Mac DeMarco’s influence in the world of indie music. Since his breakout 2012 album ‘2,’ DeMarco’s twangy jangle pop songs have inspired new musicians and subgenres, notably bedroom pop. Tracks like “Chamber of Reflection” helped define alternative music in the mid-2010s, and recently, cuts like “Heart to Heart” have been wildly popular on TikTok. At the core of these successes were not only strong instrumentation but a slacker attitude and a sense of understated romance within DeMarco’s lyrics. However, for “Five Easy Hot Dogs,” DeMarco has ditched this core component in favor of focusing on instrumentals. Regardless of this switch-up, DeMarco has constructed a solid project full of unique albeit forgettable songs that inspire a sense of tranquility unmatched by his other work.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.