It ended up being a late Wednesday night at the Mezzanine in San Francisco. Kingdom opened the night with a strong performance well past start time. King Jet wasn’t anything to get excited about, but you could feel anxiety building to see TOKiMONSTA during his set. The sold-out crowd waited patiently, impatient chanting “Toki, Toki” seemingly coaxing her onstage. Everyone was there to see her. The story of overcoming incredulous odds was something we needed to see for ourselves. We needed to see her.
Once she came out, she was all smiles embracing every minute of what was about to happen. There’s a good energy about her with a quietly confident positive personality that lends itself to making something happen - she’s already proved that she does make it happen. An ultimate collaborator, creator, and producer she’s worked with some of the greats.
She did not sing and barely spoke, almost as if she was too shy to. She was mashing up her hits and spinning others. A DJ is always in their head, feeling the energy, thinking the sound then laying the track - its a creative feat. I cannot say there was anything over the top creative happening on the tables this Wednesday night, but the energy she held over the spin was incredible, almost holding back. You know this woman will RIP it when she feels it.
Jennifer Lee (aka TOKiMONSTA) just recently told her story of enduring strength by overcoming worse odds of an extremely rare neurovascular condition corrected by ingenious and skilled neurosurgical means. It's an almost unbelievable story, the fact that she couldn’t even comprehend music during her recovery (let alone walk or talk), her boyfriend leaves her, giving space to dive deep to her inner strength tapping an energy she likely hadn't a clue she possessed.
With this, she makes an album Lune Rouge.
At the Mezz, Toki was clearly happy to be doing something she obviously loves to do and that energy was something to witness. She put on a show for us, but it wasn't anything mind-blowing. She dropped her hits, smiling at us picking them up.
We wanted something from her. We wanted to understand her interpretation of how her world was turned upside down and feel the strength of how she flipped it right side up. We wanted to be clued into the strength it takes to overcome the odds. Through her story, we wanted to walk away changed with a newfound strength.
Alas, she is a producer, her story is in Lune Rouge.
As a recognized female DJ in a male-dominated sector, she’s already set herself apart creating quite the name for herself with many accolades. TOKiMONSTA gives us something to look at - she’s uniquely beautiful with a smile that wins anyone over - no need for a distracting cartoon head. It’s unfair to need something more for her to differentiate herself even more, but in general the DJ world needs something more than a couple tables and a MacBook these days. Her story gives us something to think about. She comes back with a lot of vigor. Could I be that resilient?
She plays Concord Music Hall 2047 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL on Thursday, October 5th!
Her new album Lune Rouge is out October 6th.