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Show Review: Power pop reigned supreme with MAX at Crescent Ballroom

Pop wunderkind MAX brought the club to Phoenix on Tuesday for a party we wished would never end.


Joined by EZI and Nina Nesbitt, the night was empowering and energetic. Newcomer EZI started things off with her brand of mellow electro-pop, backed by a live guitarist/keyboardist and percussionist. Her slow jam version of The Killer’s classic “Mr. Brightside” livened up the audience for the rest of the set. EZI’s no-nonsense approach to talking about and dealing with anxiety won over the early crowd. By the end of her set, she’d jumped into the crowd to dance with all of her new fans, all having the time of their lives.


British pop singer Nina Nesbitt was MAX’s next chosen opener. With a strong endorsement from One Direction’s Niall Horan, Nesbitt has quickly been making a name for herself both in Europe and across the pond in the US. Her 90’s R&B-inspired sound, along with her adorable throwback aesthetic instantly charmed the room. Not one to sugarcoat how she’s feeling, Nesbitt described her inspirations for writing certain songs throughout her set and her ode to “fuckboys”, “Loyal to Me”, instantly had all the women in the room screaming the words back. She even brought a thrilled male fan onstage to dance with her and her Britney Spears “Toxic” cover showed off her stellar range. It’s easy to imagine Nesbitt going from the Crescent Ballroom stage to arenas with the biggest names in the business with her powerful performance.

The room had filled a little more by the time MAX and his DJ/collaborator RyanEXOE hit the stage. While it might not have been a “Basement Party”, MAX jumped right into “Savage” as video screens covering Ryan’s DJ booth lit up the stage. He channeled his best Prince with sequined pants and a bright floral shirt while Ryan embraced his mad scientist look in black and thick goggles.


The crowd was having a good time but definitely not on the energy levels that MAX is used to and he playfully called us out, asking everyone to “please wake the fuck up” for the rest of his set. MAX’s energy was off the charts and he rocked it out for a cover of Outkast’s “Miss Jackson” and “Holla” from his debut album.


Ryan jumped down from his DJ perch to get the ladies screaming with his mad keytar skills and guitar solos. MAX channeled his best Prince in sequins and floral as he crooned his way through “Worship” and “Lights Down Low”. That was the calmest things got, however, and the guys brought things right back up for their Party Pupils tune “Sax on the Beach”.

MAX’s set was wild, colorful and bright- just like the man himself. He’s a born performer and his shows have only gotten crazier over the years. He closed with “Gibberish”, letting the dedicated fans spit Hoodie Allen’s rapidfire verses. The show was fantastic and seemingly over too soon. We can only hope that the next time MAX comes to town, the crowd is ready to keep up with him.


Story and photos by Olivia Khiel