U2, Coldplay and the Rolling Stones are some of the usual suspects who’ve headlined Toronto’s Rogers Centre. But DeadMau5, the first Canadian headliner, broke that major rock band mould on Saturday night, spinning for a crowd of 20,000 fans for the last stop on his North American Meowingtons Hax tour (named after his cat).
Deadmau5, a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman, took the stage at 12 a.m. in front of gigantic LED screens as strobe lights flashed over the stadium. The Niagara Falls–raised, Toronto-based house music producer was perched on a lit-up cube-shaped podium wearing his signature mouse head—this one designed by an English fan glowed yellow and was filled with Swiss cheese holes.
The entire stadium resembled the world’s biggest Lite-Brite, with the thousands of glow-stick mouse-ear headbands the crowd was almost unanimously sporting—in homage to their musical hero—as the finishing flourish. After being warmed up by five—yes five—opening acts: house DJs Manzone & Strong, Idris Elba and Sydney Blu; and Toronto electronic duos Crystal Castles and Mstrkrft, the crowd was not disappointed. Deadmau5 delivered the danceable goods to his legions of fans; highlights included “Sofi Needs a Ladder” with guest singer Sofia Toufa, the hip-hoppy “One Trick Pony” and crowd pleasing single “Some Chords.”
Using what was then cutting-edge computer technology, Zimmerman started making dance music as a kid in the ’90s. His career kicked off in 1999 when the teenager contributed to a Tommy Lee album. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 2000s, however, that he became the Deadmau5 we know today, when his singles and albums gained huge momentum across North America and Europe.
Though today he has a huge global following among electro lovers, his lack of mainstream radio singles and hesitance to show his face have made Zimmerman relatively anonymous outside the house music scene. Nothing like a rave at Canada’s most famous stadium to change that. There were a few gasps when Deadmau5 removed his mask at the end of his show to take a bow. It was as if he was announcing his arrival as an uncontested A-lister; a big cheese who is ready to command attention. –Julia LeConte