w/ Feed Me
The Fox Theater
April 25, 2017
Photos and review by Jared Stossel.
Joel Zimmerman, better known by the stage name Deadmau5, is considered a controversial character in the electronic dance music community. He's spoken out against the music that permeates the mainstream areas of the genre, making use of his Twitter account to bring to light everything he believes to be wrong with the current climate of dance music. Some people love him, some people hate him. But it should be undisputed that his live show is simply one of the best out there. For two hours last Tuesday night, the mau5 proved why he is still considered one of the biggest and best known acts in the game.
After a great opening set from electro house producer Feed Me (aka Jon Gooch), the venue remained relatively quiet for about twenty minutes or so. The lights finally shut completely off as the lights behind the inky black curtain covering the stage began to wake up. An outline of a head resides high above the crowd. The shape of the "Cube" begins to reveal itself. The drop hits, the curtain falls to the floor, and there he is. It was a relatively cool moment, because in that moment, you know it's not a fake. I've been to countless electronic music events over the past several years, and I've seen a fair share of people wearing their own "mau5" heads. It's a fun moment because you know for a fact that it's the guy and not an imitator.
The entire night is comprised entirely of original music, and that is an element that sets Deadmau5 apart from any of his predecessors. He's in his own league, constructing tracks that have heavy emphasis on the beat itself, with minimal synth elements added in rather than an amalgamation of the heaviest and craziest sounds a producer can throw in. The sound design is a crucial ingredient in any of his songs. There was a moment in the show that I found rather eerie, when his songs were moving right along and you couldn't even hear the crowd. Everyone was facing the stage. No one was Snapchatting or Instagramming; we were all simply in the moment.
Another fascinating aspect of Deadmau5's set is that it's not a DJ set. While his setup is well-hidden from those looking up at the stage, we can see him turning knobs, messing with dials, deconstructing and rebuilding individual songs as the night progresses. It seems that he's got a rather intricate setup on that platform, a setup that is more complex than the standard Traktor controller or Pioneer CDJS that are prevalent within the dance world. There's nothing wrong with a DJ set at all (some of our favorite shows of the past five years came from DJs) but it's always refreshing to see that there are other producers mixing it up across the genre.
Even though he's known for wearing the infamous mouse head, Zimmerman actually removes it and plays a majority of the show without it. "I forgot how fucking heavy that thing was," he quips into the microphone, removing before heading into the last few songs of his set. But he was ensured that it was on for the performance of "Ghosts N Stuff", one of Zimmerman's most iconic productions to date. It proved to be the anthem of the night, as the crowd sang every word right back up to the man at the top of the Cube, while the mask lit up in synchronization with the pulsating beat and creative visuals.
Say what you want about Deadmau5. You can't refute that he puts on one hell of a show.
Deadmau5 Set List:
Three Pound Chicken Wing w/ Beneath With Me (acapella)
Deus Ex Machina/Phantoms Can't Hang
My Pet Coelacanth/Let Go
Moar Ghosts 'n' Stuff/Ghosts 'n' Stuff
Raise Your Weapon