World famous electronic music producer Joel Zimmerman, better known by his stage name deadmau5, put on a visually stunning performance last Thursday at the Santa Barbara Bowl as part of his Meowingtons Hax Tour across North America.
The Canadian techno icon brought fellow DJs/producers Jason Bentley, Le Castle Vania and Feed Me to open the concert with impressive acts capable of wowing even those unfamiliar with the genre. Despite the venue’s assigned seating and limited floor space, deadmau5’s masterful mixes from on top of his famous “cube” had everyone in the packed amphitheater electrified and on their feet.
Attendees wearing glow-in-the-dark mouse ears began to fill the venue as the night settled and Feed Me ended his heavy-hitting electro-dubstep performance. The crowd began to slowly chant in anticipation for the event’s main act as the stage gave way to deadmau5’s backdrop and setup.
For those of you living under a rock, deadmau5 is known for combining his massive electro, progressive and house tunes with high-quality visuals for a full-body music experience. While many DJs incorporate fellow producers’ works and remixes, deadmau5 plays his own tracks almost exclusively. The electronic music idol has headlined at major events around the world and has won various awards since the release of his third album Random Album Title.
The crowd came alive around 8 p.m. as deadmau5 entered the stage in his signature mouse helmet and opened his roughly two-hour set with “Bad Selection.” Deadmau5 took advantage of the 3D light fixtures ornamenting the stage to captivate the audience. He remained true to his character and incorporated various classic videogame images (think SNES Super Mario and Mega Man X), Minecraft and cartoon renditions of himself and his cat Professor Meowingtons.
The first part of the performance exuded a controlled energy and sense of mysticism aided by billowing onstage smoke. One of the highlights occurred during the first half when deadmau5 dropped his popular track “Cthulhu Sleeps” to much applause and fanfare. The song — inspired by the monster from author H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Call of Cthulhu” — seemed to transform deadmau5 into the abomination’s herald and coincided with the animated version’s attempts to break free from the backdrop.
His performance switched to high-octane mode shortly before 9 p.m. during his mashup of “Sofi Needs a Ladder.” SOFI (Sofia Toufa) appeared onstage partway through the song and followed with the vocals for their other collaborative tracks “One Trick Pony” and “Raise Your Weapon.” The duo complimented each other perfectly, with SOFI enticing the crowd through her energetic performance and raw dance moves. The remaining half of the concert featured some of deadmau5’s heavier, upbeat tracks including crowd favorites “Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff” and “I Remember” featuring Kaskade, new single “Professional Griefers” and Daft Punk remixes.
Deadmau5 saved some of the best for last as he exited the stage for what appeared to be the curtain call. When the giant cube displayed a “Game Over” countdown starting at 60 seconds, the expectant crowd cheered for an encore. After the timer struck zero, deadmau5 graced the stage once again and laid down an explosive slew of mega mashups such as “Animal Rights.” The world-class producer closed with “Strobe” and received thunderous applause from the audience afterward. Although the intimate venue of roughly 4,500 was a stark contrast to the massive crowds deadmau5 has previously entertained, the musical genius lived up to expectations and delivered a blowout performance worthy of the standing ovation.