deadmau5 brings an epic suckfest to Edmonton's Kocheda Winter Music Festival
Three years ago I journeyed up to Edmonton for deadmau5’s New Years Eve show to ring in 2011. A relatively unknown DJ duo named Showtek opened for the mau5 while an even more unrecognized artist named Skrillex closed out the show. Zimmerman picked the humble Alberta city for NYE because of its relentless support for his career and modest Canadian vibe. The dance music climate was still underground but sharply on the rise and the mau5 was leading the genre. Joel revolutionized the way DJs toured, bringing with him massive stage set ups, LED lights and buckets of confetti. Glowstick mau5 ears were a hot commodity while 4×4=12 collateral such as “Sofi Needs a Ladder” and “Some Cords” ripped through the speakers. The fans were authentic and passionate about Joel’s music, knowing they were lucky to experience an artist with such great potential within the electronic uprising. Joel shared his copious champagne and vodka bottles, and continually left the booth to interact with his star struck fans emphasizing that interaction was more important than being a dreary drone behind the deck. I found myself back in Edmonton this past weekend to experience the eccentric rodent once again.
On the brink of 2014 Joel has built himself into arguably one of the most popular brand names in dance music with a loyal fanbase that is ever expanding. He prides himself on fan interaction through Ustreams, Reddit, open song progression and opening up his own exclusive social media community. Though the sounds have changed over the past few years, Joel continues to bring this element of closeness to his shows making each local crowd feel like they truly matter. On the 28th of December, deadmau5 did exactly this with the enthused Alberta crowd at Kocheda Winter Music Festival, starting off the show by sitting with his legs dangling from the stage to be eye-level with the crowd exchanging personal banter while sipping on his Timmies double double. His genuine nature shined through as he interacted with his fellow countrymen making the crowd feel proud to call him their own.
Joel had spent the day with one if his youngest fans, eight-year-old Darius (@Draw4Deadmau5) from Calgary who drew a mau5head picture a day and posted to Twitter until he got to meet his hero. Deadmau5 honored his original word, and even partook in a collab with the young boy helping to draw one his original masterpieces. Between this and his recent ticket slashing stand, fans are seeing a softer side of the tough persona he is known for.
Though the interaction felt warm and fuzzy, his set was anything but. Joel teared through the darker pieces of his discography including a plethora of IDs that were full of angst and a hint of melancholy. The crowd found most of the material unrecognizable yet tried to understand the emotion behind it. Snippets of songs like “Longest Road” and “Ghosts n Stuff” gave the crowd a vocal satisfaction, while mashups like “Fn Pig” with “The Vedlt” kept the set alive. He jolted his entire body with each transition exemplifying just how into his own music he was, while his multi-dimensional screen played animations of various forms. The mood was kept dark and aggressive throughout the performance giving fans less of a reason to dance but more of a chance to feel.
In 2010 deadmau5 was leading the dance music uprising through his innovative set experience and beautiful melodies like “Strobe.” Although the rest of the EDM world has exploded along with him, his presence remains unique and consistent. He hasn’t conformed to the unfortunate big room syndrome plaguing the scene yet tries everything within his power to stray away from the norm. He has squashed the electronic cheese in his mau5trap like a true activist. Three years down the road when he comes back to play his annual Alberta set, it’s safe to say Joel will continue to treat his fans like his friends and trends like taboos.
Photo Credit: Desmond Chong