EDM pioneer Deadmau5 turned the Armory into a warehouse rave Saturday night. Grammy nominated multiple times, Joel Thomas Zimmerman(no relation to Bob Dylan) has been grinding since he dropped his first single in 1990. With Random Album Title in 2006, Deadmau5 cemented his place on the EDM Mount Rushmore, and is currently one of the highest paid DJ’s in the world.
Full disclosure: The reviewer who was supposed to cover this show, who knows and loves EDM, had a conflict and was unable to attend. This reviewer is a Deadhead Boomer who has never been to an EDM show in his life, who wasn’t really sure that EDM was “real” music (No 30 minute guitar solos?? Really??), and wouldn’t blame you if you bailed at this point.
Due to the above mentioned personnel switch, there was a snafu getting press credentials and I missed the first performer and most of K?D’s set. What i did see was impressive. K?D’s music took the packed Armory on extended play journeys. HIs tunes had elements of industrial metal as well as bass heavy beats. At times melodic, other times discordant, each piece seemed to tell a story. While technically the youngest of the artists this evening, K?D’s set was impressive in it’s depth and he successfully captivated the gathering.
The current Deadmau5 tour is called CubeV3 Tour, so it made perfect sense that as the show started, a giant illuminated cube appeared in the center of the stage. Zimmerman was ensconced inside this cube and he used it to start the show by sending a giant text message, greeting Minneapolis and saying how much he missed the cold . As the show progresses, it is evident that this is a production spectacle unlike any other.
We only occasionally get to see Deadmau5, as the cube rotates around toward the audience we catch a fleeting glimpse. It’s hard to tell who the real star of this show is. Is it the music or the visuals? To say that both were amazing would be an understatement, I wasn’t prepared for the spectacular level of production. Visuals included scenes of dystopian worlds, a giant pulsating eye, heavenly vistas and satanic underworlds. At one point the cube appeared to be traveling through space. All of the visuals were programed by Zimmerman, he spent months teaching himself code It was around the 15 minute mark when we finally see him. We even get to see him without the mask a couple of times. He did appear to be working hard up there, pounding out keyboard riffs and massive drum beats.
It was obvious from the audience reaction that the real star of the show was the music. There appeared to be a symbiotic relationship between the glow stick swinging masses and the sonic energy emanating from the cube like a luminous pulsar. These tunes were made for dancing, and that’s exactly what the packed house did. There are lots of moments of bringing the crowd to the edge and letting them explode, the classic tension and release. Complex arrangements syncopated with the lights. You could feel the bass hammer your chest. The majority of the Armory was familiar with the catalog, most sang along or participated in the many call and responses.
I am convinced now that EDM is real music, there was real energy flowing from the stage and over the crowd that only live music can produce. Deadmau5 takes sound and light to the next level, throw in a dynamic and passionate audience and you get a pretty sweet threesome.