Concert Review

News Article

Deadmau5 in Seattle

Words by Jim Bennett

Photos by Jim Bennett

It’s a DJ set.

That’s what I kept thinking.  This is a DJ set, with some visual trappings.  I wonder how this will play out in such a big venue?  I’ve seen the crowds at festivals the last couple years for his set, and they’re enthusiastic and good sized…I know what I’m expecting visually, and looking forward to shooting it…but I was unsure how the music, and the crowd response, would unfold in the spacious and grand Paramount with a general admission floor.

When I arrived, it was fairly sparsely populated, but visually super rich to take in.  A surprising amount of costumes.  *Loads* of folks wearing glo-stick-ears, their own homemade versions of his headgear, shirts with the mouse head…and bikinis, and face paint, and beads, and glo-sticks woven into everything and adorning all body parts.  Glowing balls on strings, spun by sinewy dancers.  LED shirts.  Lighted fingertips on gloves being spun like electric webs through the air in the face of chosen recipients.

The stage had 2 big video screens on either side of an elevated DJ table, right up at the front.  A large curtain behind them remained up for now.

The first DJ, Zedd, shouldered the cold-start task of getting the room moving.  As a good techno DJ does, he built up the music, and response, in layers – establish, repeat, iterate, crescendo, peak, and then establish a little higher energy, or bigger beat, or slower tempo, or extra vocal phrase.  He probably had 45 minutes, and by the end had a much fuller house who cheered his name repeatedly as he left the stage.

More people arrived.

Immediately upon leaving, the next DJ came on – Excision.  He had a bit more angular sound, took more left turns rhythmically and musically, had the occasional gothic edge or industrial grind to the tone, but kept everyone dancing.  He also fired off a good 45 minutes of music.  The crowd stayed with him as he took more chances, both seeming to enjoy where head took them and anticipating what was coming next.

More people arrived.

When he finished, a quick set turnover removed the screens and table from the stage, and left the curtain looming farther back.  Within a couple minutes it was house lights down, curtain drop, and there sits the DJ cube with the ears perched atop.  Deadmau5 played around quite a bit more than the first two had musically, and has a terrific array of lights and LED surfaces to work with.  The rubik’s cube, the vines, various words, textures and loads of other imagery rolls across the 3 faces of the 10-15′ tall cube visible to the audience.  Overhead lights in the ceiling and on the floor complement the scene.  Sculpture overhead and sitting on either side of the cube reflect and complement.

People still arriving, and now absolutely everyone moving, clapping, cheering, gesturing, responding to his signals.

It wasn’t just a DJ set.  It was a real carnival, and it was packed.  I love shows where the audience plays an integral part in the experience of seeing the performer – the room feels more spacious and the experience is personalized in a way that makes the night stand out.  This night had all of that, and as I stood back – literally and figuratively – I realized from the opening notes by the first DJ, the night was designed as a continuous flow, cascading and building.  Great energy by the time the whole stage was popping, shining light on the audience dancing with arms outstretched to the stage, ears bobbing.

If you want to get involved in a dance extravaganza, throw on your shimmying clothes and get you to a Deadmau5 show.  You’re in for a very fun night.

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