Joel Zimmerman went from zero to DJ Hero in record time. Live Nation doesn’t even know how to spell his alias yet; tickets for this week’s two night stand read “DEADMAUS5”. Zimmerman, the man behind the deadmau5 mask, may hail from Canada, but Denver-based Beatport.com is largely responsible for putting him on the beatmap. Playing to a full house in The Mile High likely holds a special appeal for that very reason. Beatport’s own Sir Thomas–credited with first discovering the rodent runner–helped Skrillex warm up The Fillmore last night (Beatport big cheese Jonas Tempel opened Wednesday). Haters may criticize the size of his head, but Zimmerman apparently remembers where he came from. Beatport must be beaming.
It’s official: Zimmerman has the sickest toys. Three and a half years ago, he was tinkering with Fruity Loops in a basement studio. These days, he helms a custom-built, LED-covered DJ booth that could very well be worth a million in cheddar. MTV arranged their entire Video Music Awards stage around it. The high-tech, lip-synching mau5 head is reportedly worth two hundred fifty grand. Until Daft Punk masters hologram technology, Zimmerman wins in the bells and whistles department. Still, the cube worked much better in Red Rocks’ stadium seating setting than it did last night at The Fillmore, where it’s height on stage was almost comical (never a bad thing, though, as laughter’s an immune system booster).
There’s no question Zimmerman’s got a light show like no other, not to mention some of the most innovative audio engineering in existence. Both theatricality and set programming could use work, though. Zimmerman is the first to admit he’s not a DJ (although he later apologized, his DJ rant last fall drew considerable heat). Producing beats from scratch got him to where he’s at. Taking the dance floor on a journey is not his forte just yet. His hits are huge–â€œGhosts N’ Stuffâ€, the Kaskade collab â€œI Rememberâ€–and his buildups are pretty epic too (especially with the BPM-synched LEDs), but many of the transition tracks and loops are relatively lacking in dynamics.
As far as the show goes, there’s a point near the middle where Zimmerman glitches the church organ from “Ghosts” and someone–possibly frequent collaborator Steve Duda–comes out covered in a bed sheet with black spots drawn on. Seriously. It was arguably the most ridiculous portion of the entire performance. Mau5 head exhaust the costume budget? Apparently so. Glow bracelet baseball, where Zimmerman dismounted the cube and came down wielding some kind of flag like a bat (that he never swung) while fans hurled neon jewelry at it, was a little strange too. The dubstep encore crushed though.
Sure, the mau5 head is a gimmick of sorts, but it makes for one hell of a spectacle. Last night’s hormone clusterfuck ate it up.