Last Saturday, Hard Events held a free concert at the Hollywood Palladium to build hype for the release of “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails composed the music for the movie, and thought free concert events in cities around the world would be a great way to get his work some attention. The shows were called “HARD x Mouth Taped Shut” and were open to fans who signed up on social media sites before the lineups were announced. Groove Armada played in London, Sebastian Ingrosso in Chicago, Major Lazer in San Francisco, and Deadmau5 in Hollywood. We were lucky enough to attend the Deadmau5 show at the Palladium, check out our review and a video after the jump.
Deadmau5’s sets are intricate experiential-media compositions, with every sound, video board, and light meticulously planned out in advance by the artist, whose real name is Joel Zimmerman. His shows contain a magical synergy that amounts to so much more than a DJ stringing tracks together underneath some lights. This is why Joel famously said in an interview last year that he doesn’t like DJs, that there is nothing impressive about “standing on stage and hitting the “sync” button. Deadmau5’s current Meowingtons Hax tour is certainly no exception to his legacy of comprehensive stage production (even if it is named after his cat). On tour Deadmau5 always brings his famous Expert Griefing machine. The ‘machine’ is a 3d LED stage designed by Martin Phillips, the same artist who did Daft Punk’s stage triangle and Kanye’s Glow in the Dark tour.
In the past year Zimmerman has experimented with different forms of sound, a la “raise your weapon,” yet he does anything but abandon his old style on his new tour. Instead of just playing new experimental tracks, Joel uses the new sounds to create bridges between his songs and to redux a couple of his older songs. If you are interested in reading more about the Meowingtons Hax tour, check out our review of his August 28th show at the Palladium.
If Deamau5 used the Meowingtons Hax tour to showcase his finely tuned experiential-media masterpiece, then “Deadmau5 Unhooked” is something Joel does in his time off to show the world that he is just as skilled at spinning a house music set as any of the DJs he took so much flak for criticizing. Zimmerman played an Unhooked set at the Palladium on December 17 as part of HARD Events’ “Mouth Taped Shut” free promotional concert series. The ‘Unhooked’ moniker means that he did not bring his Expert Griefing Machine or any of his other visuals, although he did use the same lights as the other artist. Deadmau5’s performances have set the entertainment bar so high that he has to have a disclaimer when he is only performing a normal DJ set. To underscore the difference from his normal productions Zimmerman came out on stage without his mau5 head on, to much fan fare. A couple of songs later he put on his new mau5head that Nintendo Founder Shigeru Miyamoto designed and gave him at last week’s Video Game Awards, where Deadmau5 performed. Deadmau5 has always been a huge fan of gaming, with Zelda hearts tattooed on his arm and a space invader tattooed on his neck. See Miyamoto signing Zimmerman’s arm in this photo from the VGA’s? Yeah, he got that tattooed on afterward.
Despite all these differences, the music was still the most significant change from his Mau5ington Hoax set. Zimmerman played a traditional house set with extended versions of his songs, without any mau5step. In both sets he used primarily his own tracks, with only a few samples like Daft Punk’s ‘Around the World’ mixed in for fun. It was remarkable how different the show was when most of the songs were the same. Saturday’s house music genre exercise was exceptionally well mixed, exactly what I would have expected from Deamau5 if I had not seen his spectacular multimedia experiences. I can honestly say I don’t ever expect to see another artist create two such drastically different shows back to back from the same discography like this ever again.