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When you think of the house music explosion over the past decade or so, only a few names carry as much as weight as Canadian EDM music producer Deadmau5. Joel Zimmerman aka Deadmau5 earned unparalleled levels of popularity in the late 2000s and early 2010’s with hits like “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff”, “Strobe,” and “I Remember”. In addition to his music, Deadmau5 is known for his elaborate live shows that feature stunning visual effects and his signature “Mau5head”. He’s headlined the biggest stages and rocked some of the largest crowds in the world. A few of his notable appearances have been Coachella, Lollapalooza, Ultra Music Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Tomorrowland. Conversely, I had the opportunity to see Deadmau5 at a small club in Los Angeles. The number of attendees was just above 600. Yes, just about 600 people were lucky enough to see Deadmau5 and Spencer Brown play B2B for a few hours at Sound Nightclub. Let’s hop into it.

The event We Are Friends presented by Mau5trap was set to kick off at 10 PM at continue into the wee hours of the morning. At 10 PM, Speaker Honey and DJ Dee spun electrifying beats as eager fans poured into the intimate dance venue. As their set went on, I could feel the tension in the air as anticipation grew for the supporting and main acts. Spencer Brown was up next. He harnessed that anticipation and fed the crowd a set, blending both complex melodies and driving basslines. As Brown served the crowd, the big bossman Deadmau5 casually joined the young 29-year-old DJ behind the boards.

Every time I’ve seen Deadmau5, it’s been a flashy over-the-top spectacle that you would expect of a DJ of the highest caliber. He’s always been in a massive LED cube suspended above the crowd, with colossal screens mounted on each side. On top of that, he was easily recognizable and spotted by his monumental signature “Mau5head”. This time around, sporting blue jeans and a white tee, Deadmau5 casually threw down one of his darker sets I’ve heard in a long time. Without the assistance of any large visual backdrop, he dropped slew of music with recognizable tracks ranging from “Imaginary Friends” (2016) to “Escape” (2023) off the Kx5 album. Without his signature “Mau5head” in sight, you could see the smiles and laughter on Joel Zimmerman’s face as he dropped beat after beat on the crowd who absorbed every vibration. Something about this felt extremely pure. I’m not knocking big stages or high production budgets, but it felt like we peeled back the layers of distractions and got a sense of Deadmau5 in the truest and rawest form possible.

Overall, Deadmau5 delivered the electrifying and immersive experience that you would expect, but he did so without the layers of cotton candy. Using just the nightclub’s state of the art sound system and built-in lighting production, Deadmau5 kept the small crowd dancing into the wee hours of the morning purely with powerful beats and mind-bending transitions. It’s clear that no matter the capacity that Deadmau5 is playing in, his show promises to be a true testament to his talent. There’s a reason he remains one of the greatest DJs in the world.

Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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