Live Review: Emei Delivers a Powerful & Penetrating Show in Los Angeles on The Cynical Tour

Scatterbrain EP - Emei
Scatterbrain EP - Emei
Up and coming alt-pop artist Emei stunned her LA audience on The Moroccan Lounge stage with a confident, high-spirited performance.
Stream: ‘Scatterbrain’ – Emei

We are all familiar with popular singing shows such as American Idol and The Voice.

Though the competitors make it look effortless on TV, those reality competitions are no joke. To get far in something like that, it takes an immense amount of dedication and skill. Chinese-American singer/songwriter Emei impressively reached 3rd place in Chinese Idol at just 15. Eight years later, she continues to enthrall audiences, having come into her own as one of alt-pop’s brightest and most exciting artists to watch.

Scatterbrain EP - Emei
Scatterbrain EP – Emei

I had the pleasure of attending the November 9th leg of Emei’s The Cynical Tour at Los Angeles’ esteemed indie venue, The Moroccan Lounge. Running throughout November 2023 and continuing in April 2024, The Cynical Tour sees Emei promoting her recently-released EP, Scatterbrain. As a live performer, that fierce, unyielding commitment to her craft is clear. In her teen years, Emei has possessed a huge proficiency for music; since then, her talent has only grown exponentially. At this gig alone, it was astounding to witness the blood, sweat, and tears put into her performance. Emei places her whole heart and soul on the stage, and her audience connects to that palpable electricity.



She kicked things off with “Backtrack.” The release is a punchy, bold piece all about throwing around fighting words that cannot be taken back. Her hard-hitting, assertive vocals exude an immense amount of strength. That force was only amplified in her live enactment.

The upbeat “Irresponsible” really got the crowd going as everyone sang along to the “la la la’s.” Emei buoyantly bounced around and that rowdy energy transferred over to the audience.


Another memorable highlight was the infectious and utterly relatable “Late To The Party.” The hypnotic track is an ode to all the late bloomers out there. When you think about others you know in your age group, to compare yourself is only human nature. As we sung along, the lyrics felt all too real. Mentioning unforgettable occurrences, I would be remiss if I left this out. How often do we witness an artist or band perform and they literally sit on the ground in the middle of the group? This had to have been a first for me.

As we sat on the floor surrounding Emei, it gave the set a whole other level of intimacy. Singing a Chinese tune paired with Maroon 5’s serene jam “Sunday Morning” the people watched with bated breath. Then a heartfelt dedication to her immigrant mother and the sacrifices she has made left everyone feeling the love. The humor was not lost on the fact she went from that dedication to a dis track “Better People to Leave on Read.” She herself made light of the transition.


She played other gripping originals as well such as “711” and “Regrets” while throwing in a thrilling cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” The bubbly song was certainly a crowd pleaser.  The fun and chaotic “Scatterbrain,” detailing her journey with ADD, is yet another perfect one to rock out to. Again the audience went wild.

Do you look at those influencers you follow and wonder how they constantly have it so together? Then “That Girl” is sure to be your vibe. The offering is the ideal edgy jolt to “end” the show. I put, “end” in quotations, as we all loudly shouted, “encore, encore” – and how could you not, with a demonstration like that?

Not to mention this being called “The Cynical Tour,” of course Emei would have to play the song “Cynical.”

Emei © 2023
Emei © Aser Santos Jr.

With the moody darkness of Billie Eilish, yet capturing a unique quality all her own, Emei’s “Cynical” was a truly riveting reprise.

An intense single depicting the ultimate form of self-sabotage, it will leave you asking… “Why am I so cynical?” It is that, among many other profound thoughts, that Emei’s music leaves behind. One thing I’m definitely thinking… after that show, I’m a true ride or die Emei fan.

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Scatterbrain EP - Emei

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