Just after Denver’s first snow day, Joel Zimmerman, better known by his stage name deadmau5, brought the “We Are Friends Tour” to Red Rocks Amphitheatre last Friday night. The tech-savvy and beat-obsessed electronic music producer brought life back to the cold rocks with NERO and Kascade as his openers.
Visual references to the rock formation that makes up the amphitheater began the show. A bright light traced the natural formation behind the audience, highlighting its natural curves and cliffs. The rock also served as a canvas for the names of each band and the tour logo.
NERO jumpstarted the show with blue mountains behind their mixing table and glorious nature videos as their backdrop. Dubstep beats were quickly mixed with Alana Watson’s intense lyricism. The group was dressed in all black and presented icy blue lights that transitioned to red as their set continued. NERO kept the crowd on their toes with each beat drop and a remix of “Icky Thump” by The White Stripes. Watson’s black platform heels and full leather bodysuit brought the heavy guitar to life. Moving back into dubstep, the track “DREAMS” elated the crowd. As the set closed, fans clearly wanted more.
Second opener Kascade brought the audience on a journey of life and death. Visuals began with blooming flowers and bright pink lights but slowly moved into rotating skulls and oppressive white flashes. Members of the crowd were highlighted on the screen, showing the most passionate to the few disgruntled listeners. Many fans wore glow-stick mouse ears on their heads, large luxurious coats or animal onesies in honor of the occasion. deadmau5 made his first entrance during Kascade’s set, chugging a beer to the crowd’s excitement. Kascade quickly offered him a spot at the mixing table, but deadmau5 only watched. “I don’t know what to do with my hands,” he said through laughter.
deadmau5 called the audience to attention moments after Kascade finished his set by giving a shoutout to both openers. Immediately the performer made himself known and interacted with the crowd. “Hey, I got something to do with my hands now!” he exclaimed. Standing behind a symmetrical podium, he brought the crowd to life with beats and instrumentals propelled from the dark stage. The crowd buzzed as white and green lights shot across the night sky. Images of the iconic deadmau5 mask swirled across the stage as the beats intensified and intense chord progressions brought forth “Some Chords,” recognizable to any long-term fans. Then deadmau5 moved from the #1 Spotify hit “Escape” into a remix of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk. The crowd erupted with energy while the backdrop shifted to dark greens and blacks.
Behind the podium, deadmau5 grew into a towering green tentacled monster whose skeleton flashed with light. Green lights extended these tentacles toward the crowd menacingly. The musician’s sweatshirt, with bones painted along the arms, was shed as the amphitheatre grew warm under the soul-rattling bass.
Shifting into a more night club-esque sound, visuals transitioned once again, showing a meme known commonly as the confused math lady. deadmau5 followed this with a video of a pilates video instructed by a woman with a photoshopped face. “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” brought each image to life and the crowd roared with laughter, movement and shock.
deadmau5’s smile was contagious and his excitement evolved with each new transition. Darkness returned to the stage and behind the podium, two reflective ears rose, slowly taunting the crowd. Screams echoed off the rock walls as the deadmau5 mask looked over the writhing crowd with huge glowing eyes. Quickly the music regained center stage as the large deadmau5 head bobbed to each rhythm.
Hours passed in the blink of an eye. Mask-less deadmau5 closed the show with his emotional 2022 single “Alive.” Over cheers, deadmau5 rejoiced, “Such a legendary venue, so privileged and honored to be here.” Clearly, the electronic legend enjoyed his time at one of Colorado’s highest-altitude venues and was more than ready for his next show at Temple Nightclub.