Review: Deadmau5 Reminds Chicago That House Music Is Still Thriving

EDM legend Deadmau5 (also known behind the persona as Joel Zimmerman) packed an eventful night of dancing, insane lighting and some talented supporting DJs all under Aragon Ballroom’s iconic galactic ceiling. The amount of pure excitement I felt walking into the venue Friday night was beyond words. I grew up listening to both Deadmau5 and supporting act NERO; and to finally be able to witness them in the flesh was nothing short of a pure nostalgia trip for me.

British electronic trio NERO, who have been somewhat silent since the release of their 2015 album, Between II Worlds, hit the road with Deadmau5 as the main supporting act for the We Are Friends tour. NERO had no problems warming up the vibrant crowd, which was eager to submerge into the EDM ambiance. Being someone that is so used to going to pop/rock shows, it was actually refreshing to just enjoy and soak in the intricate visual elements depicted on the massive screens that go alongside seamlessly with the music. NERO had the world on a chokehold with their distinguishable hit “Promises” back in 2012 and it still hit just as hard 10 years later on Aragon’s stage.

Following NERO’s electrifying set, I was left vibrating from the bass that echoed throughout the ballroom. Deadmau5 quickly emerged shortly after NERO and jumped right into his house groove. The intro faded into “Cthulhu Sleeps,” which I instantly recognized from his iconic 4x4=12 album; his visuals paying homage to the album’s electric green aesthetic. To make the set even better, Zimmerman remixed Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” into his set; riling up the crowd even further!

He was teasing the crowd; performing a good chunk of his set with his Mau5 head nowhere to be seen. I was beginning to question whether he even bothered wearing it on stage anymore seeing how established he has grown to be. About halfway into his set; Zimmerman gave his eager fans what they wanted as he crouched behind his setup and lowered the iconic Mau5 head over his. The glowing eyes, the huge ears and that big sinister smile all on a reflective gold finish was the icing on the cake for his set. Being Zimmerman’s alter-ego, It was almost as if there was a different being all together on stage. Chills ran down my spine being able to see one of many legendary headpieces in person. Of course Deadmau5 had to perform his timeless “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” which was a very amusing experience in itself.

. Although EDM is not my usual concert forte, I just had to make it out for Deadmau5 and Nero. Both made an immense impact on the electronic music world throughout the 2010s and my younger self would have absolutely lost it had he known he would eventually witness them both in concert. Maybe a little mad that it took so long, but overjoyed at how good the show would be. I was left pleasantly surprised with the grandiosity of the world Zimmerman has created. Catching his set reminded me why I adored his music so much back in the day and how well it's aged. I left Aragon Ballroom a revived Deadmau5 stan.

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Andrew Lagunas

Andrew Lagunas is a freelance photographer from Naperville who specializes in portraiture and concert photography. He has an Associate in Arts degree from College of DuPage and is always looking for new creative outlets.