Meowingtons Hax Tour with Deadmau5, Excision, Tommy Lee and DJ Aero, Zedd
Better than: Waiting to drop your favorite Deadmau5 track in a Turntable.fm room.
August 25 marked the arrival of Deadmau5's Meowingtons Hax tour in Los Angeles, the first of a four night stint at the Hollywood Palladium. Three of those shows sold out.
To give you a sense of how big a deal the Thursday night show was, the main dance floor was packed so tightly that it looked as though there wasn't room to do anything more than raise your arms in the air or climb on your boyfriend's shoulders. If you were dancing, and nearly everyone on the floor was, you moved up and down.
A good chunk of the audience was decked out in glow-in-the-dark mouse ears, which you could score from girls who were roaming through the club throughout the night. Many more were holding up cell phones and cameras. How did they manage to dance while shooting video? Stranger still, how did I manage to dance while taking notes? One could only imagine that the videos on YouTube will be as wobbly as my handwriting.
Deadmau5 may not have the chart success of David Guetta, but he's the artist that's defining dance music for the new generation of club kids. A product of dance music ADP (After Daft Punk), he understands the power of inventive, technologically savvy performances and has a knack for turning nerdy references ("Cthulhu Sleeps," anyone?) into something ready for the parties few want to call raves. There was even a direct nod to the French masters of dance music when Deadmau5 dropped a remix of "Harder, Better, Faster Stronger" shortly before the fan favorite, "Ghosts n Stuff."
For those unfamiliar with Deadmau5, his music has little regard for the confines of electronic genres. He's as likely to play with dubstep as he is ready get all minimal.
Then there are the visuals. Deadmau5 performs on top of a tower-like structure, surrounded by LED screens. Scenes changed more often than Kylie Minogue changes costumes, beginning with a Rubik's Cube solving itself and quickly moving into more abstract designs. Up in the booth, he switches out his famed mouse head, going from all white to a LED-covered one with glow-in-the-dark ears that mimics the cover of 4x4=12. Visually, Deadmau5 mixes the retro with the modern. During "Ghosts n Stuff," LED screens presented the crowd's favorite mouse chasing the ghosts from Pac-Man. This soon morphed into a series of levels from Super Mario Bros. (with Deadmau5 in the Mario role) that were occasionally interrupted by the image of an LOL Cats-styled feline.
Deadmau5 is an artist for the young. His pop culture references are more frequently derived from video games and viral hits, mixing songs with titles like "FML" with emoticons. Even his choice of singer, Sofi, who appeared on stage for live renditions of "Sofi Needs a Ladder" and "One Trick Pony," is a new school dance diva, with an unusual sense of a delivery and a style that, like Deadmau5, cannot be easily defined.
The crowd certainly reflected the artist's youthful appeal. All of the Palladium shows are 16-and-over and, let's just say that it's been a long time since we've seen so little activity at the bars in a venue.
Earlier that night, we met up with openers Tommy Lee and DJ Aero backstage at the Palladium. Aero commented on their recent L.A. gigs, saying that the crowd has gotten "better" with more 16+ and 18+ events.
"Kids like to dance," he says. "They're not sitting around drinking $12 Jack and Cokes."
It's true, in fact, when I wrote about Deadmau5's gig at the Belasco earlier this year, my only real gripe was that it was a 21+ event and it felt like the audience suffered as a result. But, Deadmau5 wasn't the only one who got the attention of the young audience on Thursday night. Tommy Lee and DJ Aero, who recently signed to Deadmau5's label, mau5trap, and have two tracks-- "Static" and "LFO Tool"-- on the imprint's just-released Meowington Hax compilation, picked up on a crowd that had just filled the venue and kept them dancing.
As a drummer, Lee is a true showman. Just last weekend, he was drumming upside down with Motley Crue at Sunset Strip Music Fest. Onstage with DJ Aero, he shows relative restraint, but the duo still puts on a show.
"That's what I wanted to bring to the sport," says Lee,"live performance."
Playing their own music as well as remixes of other artists' work, Lee and Aero did bring a sense of performance to the stage. Joining them were guest vocalists Sofi, Sir Bob Cornelius of The Bloody Beetroots and the fantastic Sue Cho, who joined the duo for a rendition of their collaboration with Robbie Rivera, "Ding Dong."
Lee and Aero work their laptops, with a sense of real passion and love for the nightlife. They dance constantly, as though they're cheering on the sweaty, barely dressed crowd packed on a dance floor on what was the hottest day of the year (so far) in Los Angeles.
Aero says that unless the people on stage are really getting into the music, "There's
no way anyone is going to dance, unless you're high or drunk."
Also playing Thursday night were Excision, a dynamic dubstep artist, and early-evening party rocker Zedd. You'll want to check out both. Make sure you show up early enough to catch Zedd, who plays first on the bill. You may get some quality dance time before the floor completely fills.
The crowd: Young, more than a few girls wearing tutus and bras.
Personal bias: I'm often torn between taking notes and dancing.
Random notebook dump: When white light hit the stage in just the right way, Deadmau5 looked like an even more famous mouse perched on top of the Matterhorn.
We were able to obtain a set list that appeared to be intended for lighting cues. Everything is listed below, but keep in mind that Deadmau5 does play like a DJ would, in a near continuous mix, so there's bits of other songs that may have appeared and the set, overall, isn't necessarily one song after the other.
"Where Are My Keys?"
"Reward Is Cheese"
"Play Us Out"
"Raise Your Weapon"
"Sofi Needs a Ladder" (with Sofi)
"One Trick Pony" (with Sofi)
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"Ghosts n Stuff"
"Get in the Cart Pig"