Live: Deadmau5 Gets The Heads Bobbing At Roseland


Roseland Ballroom
Friday, October 7

Better than: Waiting for people to show up to an empty room.

It’s a tricky thing, the dance concert. Do you treat it like a regular show and face the performer in a gesture of celebrity worship, or do you lose yourself in the music, figuring that doing so is the ultimate tribute to the artistry being put forth? At Friday night’s performance by the Canadian producer/DJ who goes by the name Deadmau5—the fourth concert in a six-show Roseland string—the audience opted for the former, even though the “celebrity” being showered with adulation was a man rendered somewhat anonymous by the giant mouse head (made of what looked like golden cheese!) topping his frame.

The audience swayed and bobbed as his two-hour set blipped by, and from the mezzanine the collected head-backs looked like a live manifestation of a room on the social-music service Although that probably wasn’t too much of a coincidence, given that being able to wear Deadmau5’s head had once been an unlockable achievement for that site’s users; people can change their avatars after passing certain thresholds of crowd-pleasing, and for a while, the big cartoon mouse getup was one of the signs that a user had reached elite status. He eventually asked the service to quit it, but on Friday night, it was once again OK for people to pay tribute to him via headgear; glow-in-the-dark mouse ears of varying sizes were sold by roving vendors, and a couple of people even wore impressive replica heads of their own as they nodded along with the music. (No word on how comfortable it was to do so, although one mouse-topped man did spend a chunk of the show underneath a particularly strong air-conditioning vent.)

Beyond the undulations of the audience, the visual spectacle presented on stage was familiar, yet impressive; he shifted from one song to the next while standing atop what looks like a Lego light cube that’s given over to spectacular, mouse-head-filled projections mixing standard screen-saver fodder with blatant “remember that?” references to the 8-bit era (one song had as its visual accompaniment select screens from Super Mario Bros. 3 with an 8-bit Deadmau5 head added in, and you can probably guess which classic video game was paid visual homage during “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff”).

Deadmau5’s music takes a lot of popular dance ideas—razorblade bass lines, big choruses that cause the assembled to lift their arms in gestures of worship, Daft Punk samples (on “Professional Griefers”)—and plops self-consciously “new” ideas, like calling songs “FML” and “asdfghjkl,” on top. It’s a pleasant if not exactly groundbreaking mix, although the arrival of the vocalist Sofi for a couple of tracks, including the abrasive “Sofi Needs A Ladder” made things veer toward the harder end of the spectrum in a somewhat unpleasant way. But striking out in new artistic directions surely isn’t as important as getting a big room of people moving, and move the people did, even if they were all facing forward for the most part. (Shout out to the two young women who took over an empty space in the back of the mezzanine for a freak-out session near the show’s end.) The end of the show was commemorated by, of course, “GAME OVER” blazing across the stage—although judging by the way the sweaty, ears-askew audience exited Roseland, a lot of people felt like they had won.

Critical bias: 409 DJ points, 94 fans.

Overheard: “Yeah, they probably didn’t feel you when you bumped into them.”

Random notebook dump: Pretty sure Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, boyfriend of Sofi, was the very tall “ghost” who came out on stage during her mini-set. (He was there.) If so, this would mark the second time this year I’d seen them onstage together, as she was his guest on the drumcoaster during Mötley’s Nassau Coliseum show in July.

Set list:
Where Are My Keys
Bad Selection
Reward Is Cheese
To Play Us Out
Some Chords
Cthulhu Sleeps
HR 8938 Cephei
Aural Psynapse
Raise Your Weapon
Sofi Needs A Ladder
One Trick Pony
Professional Griefers
Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff

Limit Break
Animal Rights
Get in the Cart, Pig

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