Zuli took the stage at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday, January 25th, for their first Manhattan show of the year. The New York City based four-piece played a set involving strong three-part vocal harmonies, a complex instrumental cover and striking dynamic changes. I got the sense that the whole thing was admirably unlabored, despite the highly detailed musical composition, as the band moved between songs with a casual ease. Some thoroughly speedy guitar work, courtesy of frontman Zuli (Ryan Camenzuli), was underpinned by the nord electro keyboard and the bass, which made the songs followable, fun and accessible.
Zuli arrived just in time for their 9.30 slot, having played another set – in another borough, no less – just beforehand. A pretty intense schedule didn’t impede the joyous musical moves that were on display throughout their performance. A large room like LPR, when not-quite-full with the mixed crowd of a Monday night – fans, friends of the other bands, NYU juniors catching up after their Christmas breaks – can create an awkward vibe for some live bands. If Zuli sensed this difficulty at all, they tackled it with jesting stage banter, the settling of a beef about their favorite restaurant (it might, after all, be CJ’s), and a set full of rhythmic surprises emerging like bold rabbits pulled from sonorous hats. I sense that Zuli are not quite at their peak, yet: they’re probably building up momentum for the spring, when they’ll hit SXSW and the West coast. In the meantime, Zuli have a busy March lined up with shows DC, Charlotte, New Orleans and Phoenix.
Reviewer’s song pick: ‘Keep It Together’