By: Aaron Gaudette
Indeed, there’s something to Joel Zimmerman that I can’t quite put my finger on, and I don’t know that I ever will. But behind the millions of adoring fans, heaps of money and the seemingly endless supply of new and old recording equipment, there must be a person who’s more like you and I than either of us realize, right?
Perhaps Zimmerman, more widely known by his stage name Deadmau5, is just that—a computer-nerd-turned-DJ whose rise to fame has roughly coincided with the emerging prominence of house music and the rave generation. Perhaps it’s his down-to-earth roots and nature that’re the basis for his universal appeal amongst electronic music aficionados—or maybe it’s just that kids who’re all hopped up on Raverade really get their rocks off by seeing a giant mau5-headed DJ perform. It’s hard to be sure.
One thing is sure, however: Deadmau5 commands a crowd and a fan-base unlike any other artist in the electronic music scene. With legions of fans making their own mau5heads, getting Mau5 tattoos, and buying up $100 tickets to see him live without a second thought, the Mau5 has engendered a cult-like following thus far unseen in electronic music.
Seeing Deadmau5 perform at the Cypress Hill Smokeout in San Bernardino this past Saturday left me both impressed with his performance and in awe of what this guy has been able to accomplish in his life thus far. His production far surpassed what I’d expected for an “Unhooked” show—meaning no massive LED cube or LED mau5head—still featuring a large LED DJ table with three large screens behind it for the crowd’s ocular enjoyment.
His set got off to a running start with a back-to-back-to-back onslaught of “Moar Ghosts ‘N Stuff/Ghosts ‘N Stuff/ Some Chords”, which he followed up with such classics as “The Reward Is Cheese” and “Sometimes Things Get Complicated”. He also brought out Sofi—seemingly the Mau5’s answer to Kaskade’s Halley—and performed “Sofi Needs A Ladder” and “Raise Your Weapon”. Deadmau5 later hinted at things to come with a few unfamiliar hip-hop infused tracks and wowed the crowd with a solo on his monome, all before bringing the everyone back with his now-infamous rendition of Rage’s “Killing In The Name Of”.
The Mau5 capped the night off with the fan-favorite “Strobe”, a fitting conclusion to a two-hour set that undoubtedly left the crowd fully exhausted from both the festival as a whole and his performance. Thousands of concert-goers with beady, bloodshot eyes then filtered their way through the exits and pondered just how in the hell they were going to figure a way out of the dust bowl that is San Bernardino.
Equally impressive to the show that Zimmerman put on was the reaction he got from a crowd that was literally what the concert ticket read: All Ages. Everyone from kids in middle school to people who presumably could have been their parents were arriving at the dance tent early to stake out a spot for his show and lining up to buy his t-shirts at $30 a pop. These same attendees were the ones chanting his name for an encore once he had left the stage for the first time.
That being said, let’s revisit our initial question: Just who in the hell is this guy? Truth be told, we’re still not sure—but it’s fair to assume that he’s a computer-nerd who loves both his music and his video games, as well as his cat. He’s from Toronto and likes to hang out with Tommy Lee. And he’s achieved a level of success that no one could have forecast. As for all the rest, your guess is as good as mine.
So kudos to you, Joel. The mau5 is truly in the hau5.
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