Over the course of the past week, both Deadmau5 and Girl Talk, two of the biggest names in dance-oriented music, have played Los Angeles. On the surface, the two are wildly different artists. Deadmau5 mixes a variety of electronic music styles that tend to pack dance floors. Girl Talk is famous for creating mash-ups, frequently pitting rock and hip-hop tracks against each other in unexpected ways.
Look a little closer and you'll see, however, that the two artists have some commonalities. Both famously deny DJ as their occupation. Both incorporate distinct visual elements to turn a night at the club into a full-blown spectacle. And, perhaps most importantly, both are popular enough where they are serving as gateway artists for new dance music fans, similar in status to the Chemical Brothers in the '90s or Daft Punk in the last decade.
We caught Deadmau5 at the grand opening of swanky new downtown dance club, The Belasco, on Saturday night and Girl Talk at a sold-out show at The Palladium last Monday. After seeing both, we couldn't help but wonder if one non-DJ rocked the party harder. We weighed in on the elements of each event below.
The HypeDeadmau5 was at a definite disadvantage when it came to the hype surrounding his L.A. gig last weekend. We had the impression that it was not heavily promoted, based on conversations we had earlier in the evening with confirmed Deadmau5 fans who didn't know he was playing.
The biggest handicap in this regard, though, was that The Belasco is a 21+ venue. The totally legal crowd works well for many dance music artists, as their work appeals more to a late-20s/early-30s crowd. Deadmau5 is not one of these performers. Having previously seen him play at Coachella, we can discern that, while the Canadian producer may have fans of all ages, his audience leans young. If Deadmau5 had played either an all-ages or 18+ venue, one can only imagine that the crowd would have rivaled the one at Girl Talk.
Where Deadmau5's gig seemed to fly under the radar, the first of Girl Talk's two performances at the Palladium was sold out far before the night of the event. It was held at an all-ages venue and it was packed.
The reason why we stress the difference between 21+ and all ages is that, if you aren't old enough to drink, you aren't going to be hanging out by the bars. If for no other reason than by default, the 18-year-olds will be on the dance floor. That's an automatic win if your goal is to get people to dance.
Win: Girl Talk
The BillDeadmau5 was playing the grand opening of a dance club. He was the headliner, but not every person in the audience may have been there to see him. It was a dance night and, certainly, we can't discount the possibility that there were weekend warriors with no concern for who was providing their Saturday night soundtrack.
There were DJs spinning before Deadmau5 took to the stages, DJs who, at times, dropped huge tracks. When you hear "Barbara Streisand," "We No Speak Americano" and "Pon de Floor" in a row, you know that the crowd will be sufficiently pumped.
The big difference between a dance club and a rock show is that there's no downtime with the former. Girl Talk was definitely structured more like the latter. In typical rock show fashion, the first opening group (Junker Culture) played to a audience that was probably less than half capacity. There was little-to-no dancing. The crowd filled a bit more by the time Max Tundra hit the stage, but, it didn't match the audience for our headliner. In between all the sets, the lights grew brighter and soft music played in the background. It was kind of a mood killer. If Girl Talk weren't such a big draw, he would have had to work incredibly hard to get the crowd in the mood after waiting around the venue for so long.