Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
Another spectacle, another sojourn with Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, on his North American "We Are Friends Tour".
And he's bringing along some special guests, Lamorn and also Nero for support.
Over the past few years, besides his Drive In Outdoor Tour during the pandemic, he's made the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago his home away from home.
The Spanish Conquistidor expansiveness of the venue, the overall vibe, just enhances the overall feel of his productions- some on a grand scale with the gigantic cubes of yore, each time through getting bigger and bigger, with tech sophistication, and audio / PA sophistication to make the entire concrete and stone venue thump along side you.
The PA part hasn't changed- after a few songs to start from the Aragon balcony, I went down to front of house to get decent audience shots.
That PA still blasted through my chest to the back of the main floor, to the point of the entire riser shaking to the beat, like being a 4.5 or higher magnitude earthquake.
Have to be steady with your hands to relieve camera shake- although by now I'm used to this from Joel, and wouldn't expect anything less.
His budget, his commitment to sophisticated production, along with the immense lighting rigs, and separate but unique vertical LED screens and imagery by the back of the stage- nothing is taken for granted.
And the place was packed, even when opener Nero took the stage just before.
In essence, Deadmau5's "We Are Friends Tour" is a chance to branch out a bit, showcasing to the next generation of stars on his label mau5trap, and as always, enhancing his own personal take on his iconic mixes and songs from over the years.
So for all intent and purposes, this is a gigantic spectacle, a big party of celebratory exploration on all things progressive house, all things EDM.
It's cool that Joel has started off his set without the mouse ears- just a baseball cap, and black t shirt and pants, looking like a cab driver who just popped in after his workday, and now ready to go to his other job, which is to entertain at the controls.
This says lots in my opinion- an everyman, a normal dude, who happens to know electronic wizardry like none other, without all the fanfare.
And about six or seven songs in, out come the sophisticated mouse ears, and from my vantage point, the entire venue went apeshit.
The Aragon is so hot by this point in the show, that Joel can't keep the mouse ears on for long, clearly seeing after he takes it off the amount of sweat he's encountering, his hair soaked.
As far as details, this version of the cube is dialed down a bit, still having the look and feel of a stealth fighter from front and center, but yet not as gargantuan as previous versions.
But to the scale of the vertical LED screens directly behind, with giant and movable floor lighting by the lip of the stage to enhance the overall participatory feel.
Have to say that Joel's entire set was captivating- not just by intensely watching him, but the crowd as well, especially since his show is at the Aragon on a Friday night.
So yes- The Aragon went bonkers throughout the night, dancing in place on the main floor, Joel all smiles throughout, making for a refreshing evening in Chicago in all things dance- a pulsing dance to the beat kind of evening.
For those not necessarily in the know- everything about a Deadmau5 production is future forward.
Hard for me to try to explain to people and friends kinda in the know, but not in the know.
Its masterful, his productions, with a fresh sound and a fresh vision to make his tour stops an immersive experience, where you leave said venue dumbfounded and weak in the knees.
Bottom line when discussing this around the water cooler, all things Deadmau5- and you still can't get what I'm trying to convey in excitement- well- your loss.
For those in the know- they certainly know.
Deadmau5. Always a must see.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago