Keeping yourself from throwing your head around and acting completely out of character at a Deadmau5 concert is quite the task. Deadmau5 is the work of Joel Zimmerman, a 30 year old DJ who has become the face of House music. His stage name, ‘Deadmau5’ pronounced Deadmouse, refers to an experience Zimmerman had when he found a dead mouse in his computer. Zimmerman has evolved his music into a theatrical live performance, filling venues with fans wanting to dance to the electric beats being produced by the man in the mouse helmet.
There I stood, in the middle of Midland Theatre surrounded by countless, raging, fist-pumping, sweaty Deadmau5 fans. I slouched on the outskirts of the crowd in my Sperry Topsiders, grey slacks and black hoodie. A quick scan around the premises revealed people stomping around in furry boots, tiny neon bikini tops and way-too-short shorts, spinning around undulating neon lights. Their glow sticks seemed to be the sole lights in the giant venue, moving with the wave of dancing fans. I was hesitant at first, lock-kneed and texting, unable to get into the vibe of the crowd. Just the same, all I could think was: this is so cool.
The interior of the Midland looked like a huge house party– but it was a Monday night. The crowd was noticeably diverse, ranging from college party-goers to grunge-styled adults, all of them braced to dance the night away. Homemade paper mache mouse heads (modeled after Deadmau5’s iconic mouse helmet), glow sticks, and muscle tees were scattered throughout the mob. The logic behind the dress-code seemed to be ‘the more neon the better.’ The head-banging showed no signs of stopping.
I saw people dancing in the corners by themselves, gyrating insanely–not an uncommon sight at this concert. These people were content with being alone–all they wanted was to party. And in an atmosphere like this, who could blame them?
In the midst of all this, I didn’t want to be the awkward kid in the crowd that was preppy and visibly uncomfortable. I began to work my way to the front of the crowd. When pushing my way through the mob, people would let me pass them by without a word. These party-going ravers were some of the most polite people I’ve seen at a concert. Once I got to the middle, I could barely breathe due to the lingering smell of sweat, beer and the clearly recognizable reek of marijuana.
Women began throwing water off the stage and into the crowd, and now I had a clear view–and reason to want some water. I had only been in the center for a few minutes, and I was already soaked with sweat. Fans were jumping up and down around me, creating even more body heat. I felt I was slipping under the crowd, and I was certain that soon enough I was going to get trampled or elbowed by a shirtless-and-no-longer-so-polite druggie. The majority of the people around me could hardly stand up straight.
More than anything, there was the hypnotic music to drive the party atmosphere. The DJs could’ve looped a single track the entire night and I wouldn’t have ever noticed. There was a generic upbeat synth-and-harsh-bass sound pounding through the venue that kept the crowd going–which, to the spineless moshers around me, is saying something. Though Deadmau5 wasn’t even onstage, it felt like the crowd was erupting with energy and excitement. I could barely tell the difference between the songs, yet the true fans were going insane as the tracks switched between what seemed to me to be nameless DJ after nameless DJ.
Once I was immersed in the crowd, I was completely engaged in the music: I no longer worried about looking awkward or out-of-place. Unfortunately for me, these people were going entirely too hard for a Monday night, and I was by no means ready to stay out until the wee hours of the morning. With a sensation much like coming-to after a coma, I realized that my 12:30 curfew was looming. I backed out into the empty streets of downtown and headed to my car, left in amazement of what a concert could be.