Deadmau5 delivers hot party at the House of Blues

A review of Deadmau5 at the House of Blues on July 22, 2010

, Staff Writer

Besides making stops at just about every major festival, Canadian DJ Deadmau5 is keeping busy this summer by headlining a summer tour of his own. He rolled through Boston for a sold out two-night stand at the House of Blues last week, bringing with him one of the most highly-regarded electronic acts in recent years. To say the show was a wild dance party would be an understatement: this is one of the sweatiest, loudest, most crowded concert experiences out there right now.

The first thing everyone noticed upon entering the venue was Deadmau5’s stage setup, which consists of a large cube structure, with the DJ sitting in the top section. Commissioned from the same people behind Daft Punk’s legendary pyramid, the cube is sectioned off like a Rubix Cube, so that each can be its own color. Meanwhile, cascades of lights went off behind this. Deadmau5 himself was of course wearing his trademark mouse mask, complete with glowsticks around the ears. The light show synced up perfectly to what was coming out of the speakers, which was cool, but also brings to question just how much of the set was really done on-the-fly. This isn’t to say that the show felt inorganic, though: it was still expertly paced, and there were moments when the lights were uniform, which probably allowed Deadmau5 to open up his structure a bit.

Musically, there isn’t too much to say about what went on. It’s house music. The songs are heavy on the beat and light on the melody, and the House of Blues’ audio setup was more than able to handle the demand. The bass was seriously jacked up for this show, each drum kick blaring and rumbling out of the speakers, and the crowd ate it up. Kids threw glowsticks forward and back, splashed bottles of water all over the place, and cheered at every minor variation in the song playing.

Those in attendance completely bought what Deadmau5 was selling: the level of enthusiasm that came from the crowd single-handedly propelled this from a fairly straightforward DJ set to something worth recommending to your friends. The audience’s energy melded perfectly with the set’s pacing, every peak anticipated minutes beforehand and every valley a welcome break from jumping up and down. For as great as Boston’s music scene is, it does suffer from an acute problem of dull crowds – bands often seem to have a hard time rilling people up and getting them moving. Not so with Deadmau5: this was an infectious energy that was a welcome sight to this assigned reviewer.

So if the crowd is what made the show, it begs the question as to why Deadmau5 is as lauded as he is. There are other DJs out there who do what he does better, on a musical level, and presumably the same people would be going to those shows. He’s got the mouse mask thing going on, which gives people something to latch onto, but otherwise it seems like there isn’t much to distinguish the guy’s music from any other house artist’s. So while the show may have been musically unimpressive, even by techno standards, it’s pretty much impossible to resist getting swept into the waves of enthusiasm that are constantly rising up from the audience.

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