Deadmau5 brought his “Lots of Shows in a Row: Part 2” tour to Pacific Coliseum on October 24. The first beats of “Imaginary Friends” hummed through the stadium as the iconic silhouette of his mau5head appeared. We stared like moths drawn toward the fluorescent panels of white lights. Two stories above the crowd, his LED Cube 2.1 came to life.
Deadmau5 was like a maestro, mixing dissonant ringing beats with rich melodies and thrumming chords. His orchestral sounds built to thrilling highs before giving way to infectious beats.
He interacted with us through slow, progressive, ethereal builds that transitioned suddenly into purposeful drums and kinetic beats. People grasped at each other and swayed collectively to “Stay”, singing along to the progressive house anthem. Moments like this were juxtaposed suddenly with clangs and thick bass-lines.
We could barely see his face, but his mau5head indicated how he might want the crowd to feel. The iconic helmet switched from running lines of code, to an eerie smile and empty eyes that flipped upside down like a mocking emoji- literally “rolling face”. The show was visually striking; he drew us in with glowing neon blues and pinks. Ridiculous animals danced on screen in time to the beat, pulling ugly faces. The crowd bounced along. It was totally silly, almost slapstick- we were delighted by his mockery of us.
Amidst the technicolor rainbow visuals, lyrics such as “we’re just souls in the cold physical design” (from his hit track “Ghosts n’ Stuff”) sounded especially dissonant. He played a versatile set, ranging from the ambient and smooth groove of “Snowcone”, to the swagger of “Legendary”, to tracks from his new /W:/2016ALBUM/ including the enticing melody of “4ware”. He finished the show with a glitchy, unreleased track- a total treat for those who had been following his tour.
His show had the atmosphere of a dystopian technological landscape at its darkest, and the cartoonish world of a video game at its lightest. This made it profoundly striking when he played “The Veldt”, and an HD image of a snail, moving gently on a leaf, flashed onto the screen. It was so vivid- a bright living hope at the end of an industrial tunnel. Like his sounds, he spent a long time deliberately building up to this visual moment. The crowd’s faces tilted up like flowers towards the sun. The song was a very clever choice: a story of the deceptive happiness that technology gives us.
He’s a man of few words, but when he does speak, it’s often with heavy sarcasm. “Not bad for #49!” he remarked, a snide reference to his placement on DJ Mag’s Top 100 for this year. No, Deadmau5, not bad. Not bad at all.