I live my life constantly looking forward to my next festival. Festivals have an atmosphere most single artist shows cannot match, not to mention twenty times the talent for twice as many hours. Sometimes, however, an artist comes to town that gets me more excited. Deadmau5 at the Palladium had me the most pumped I had been for a single artist since I got to see six hours of Swedish House Mafia last October. Recipient of Beatport’s ‘Best Electro House Artist’ and ‘Best Progressive House Artist’ award in both 2009 and 2010, deadmau5, real name Joel Zimmerman, has an impossible legacy to live up to every time he steps on stage. This past weekend, he sold out four back-to-back nights and delivered a show a step above what even he had produced before.
Stage presence is an enormous part of a concert experience, and no one does it quite like the larger than life swagger that is deadmau5. Famous for never appearing in public without his signature Mau5 head, Zimmerman showed up to the Palladium with his full cube podium and full wall LED display that he used at Coachella, Ultra and other colossal outdoor venues. The Palladium is an enormous indoor space capable of capturing that massive festival stage feeling at a fraction of the size. This is probably why deadmau5 declared the Palladium to be his favorite LA venue on his last tour. His sets have inspired dozens of other artist to put LEDs on their podiums and stand in front of visualizers, so Zimmerman stepped up his game this time around; adding dozens of stunning effects, including lighting that flashed across the screen before appearing on his Mau5 head. Artists are always trying to put on sets that transport the listener ‘beyond the music’, but deadmau5 brings you all the way out to his own galaxy.
As with all perfect nights, the real substance was the music itself. The first ninety minutes flowed seamlessly though Zimmerman’s discography like a mau5centric Essential Mix blended together with his own flavor of dubstep. Deadmau5 retooled almost every song in his catalog with a rehashed progressive house/mau5 feel that blended perfectly with his slightly commercial dubstep drops. There is not more that you can ask of an artist onstage than hearing your favorite familiar chord progressions with new synth builds and surprising dubstep drops built into them. The only criticisms I have read about the performance have been his clean, crisp, filtered version of dubstep- but I saw this diet version as a perfect companion to his unique style of progressive house. Towards the end of the first set, the crowd went quiet as the bass swelled up for “Raise your Weapon.” As the speakers purred, Zimmerman waved his hand in the air, orchestrating the acoustic movements of the build, before the crashing glitch groove erupted from the podium in an avalanche of lights, lasers, and dubstep wizardry. Afterwards, SOFI came out for live vocals on “Sofi Needs A Ladder” and “One Trick Pony.”
When the lights went off, everyone in the room started to jump in excitement because they all had heard from the previous two nights what was about to happen. Having just delivered a perfect set that summed up his past, Zimmerman would now use the encore to show us the future. His epic new single, “Professional Griefers,” came blasting through the venue with enormous energy. He mixed the single straight into a barely recognizable “Ghost N’ Stuff,” making it impossible to tell that the two songs were made almost three years apart. The encore was made with new sounds, drops, and break-beat bass in such a triumphant cacophony that I was taken back to my first Skrillex show last year. Past, present, and future, deadmau5 is the undisputed king of live progressive house.
View the rest of the amazing photos from all 4 nights via RUKES.COM