deadmau5, 2010 to deadmau5, 2017: My Journey As A Raver

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.

With April, came the excitement brought on by the purely unique man who wears a giant mouse head that lights up. You know him as deadmau5, but I know him as the man who took my show virginity. In 2010, deadmau5 graced Seattle with his presence at the Paramount Theater. Up until this point I had never attended a legitimate show before. In fact, I hadn’t listened to a lot of dance music that wasn’t trance. But one day, I was driving back from a friend’s house, and we had stopped at a red light.

He put on deadmau5’s Ghosts n Stuff, as a lady with a red a polka dot umbrella walked by us in the crosswalk. The song came on and it was literally a revelation to me. I couldn’t understand how I had never heard this track before, nor did I even know who deadmau5 was. From this point on I was hooked to both him and the progressive house genre as a whole. Little did I know at the time how amazing that moment was.

Looking back at it now, it was one of those rare moments of clarity where everything is perfect, and everything makes sense. Deadmau5’s show came just a few short months after that moment, and I didn’t hesitate to see him live. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Sure, I’d been to concerts before but those were rock concerts and it’s not really the same type of atmosphere or the same type of people.

Before the show, my friend and I met up to get ready together as we normally do. I went back and forth on what to wear, what shoes would be best. I honestly overthought the whole thing ad nauseam. I didn’t know what everyone would be like, or if I’d even fit in. I settled on some jeans and a blue v-neck top, it seemed like a safe choice.

But then my friend suggested stopping to buy glowsticks to bring with us. It may have been stereotypical, but back then all I really knew about electronic shows was that people loved glowsticks and wore kandi. I should also tell you that during this time, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to have glowsticks at a show, before they were regularly not allowed in most venues. So that being so, we stocked up on all kinds of glow products, drank a few Rockstars, ate some pixie sticks (all for energy of course) and made our way to the Paramount Theater.

I remember being incredibly excited, but nervous at the same time simply because I didn’t know what to expect. And slightly nauseated, which may or may not have been a result of the pixie-stick-fueled sugar rush. When we got there, people were dressed in their rave attire. There were women in pasties and fluffies, guys were in shorts and fuzzy hoods. There were even emo kids with their spiky black hair and tight jeans.

A look back at deadmau5 on that fateful night in 2010

What really stood out to me the most though, was the fact that there were a lot of people over the age of 30 who were at the show. Mostly at the bar, but you could see them because they stood in the back, with their veteran auras and looked at us smiling, as though remembering what it was like to be so young and excited. There definitely was an eclectic mix of people at this event, which I loved!

In my limited experience at live shows I was taken aback by the diversity, and surprised to see people of all ages and personal styles. I found this so intoxicating because I never fit in anywhere, except in this one place. I knew this is where I needed to be. My friend and I floated around the venue for a while, taking in our surroundings and all the interesting people before making our way towards the stage.

Die Antwoord was the opener for deadmau5 at this event, and imagine my utter shock to see the South African duo on stage with their unique blend of dance and rap, covered in their extensive tattoos, while wearing white fur and combat boots. I had no idea who the hell they even were and it took me a while to decide if I even liked them. All I knew was I wanted them off the stage, as I grew impatient for deadmau5 to come out (It’s worth noting, I didn’t have an appreciation for openers at this point in my life).

Finally it was time for the main event. He came out with his mouse head, with its glowing mouth and eyes. If I remember right he started his set with Strobe. It was dark, moody, and forlorn (as is his general aesthetic), but when he dropped the bass everyone went nuts. The crowd erupted into an excited burst of energy and raucous cheering. It was infectious. And I couldn’t stop dancing, with the crowd’s energy giving me the fuel to go on despite the fact it felt as though my feet would literally fall off my legs. I never wanted it end! But like all good things, it eventually must. We went back to my place full of energy, but really it filled me with a strong desire to do it again and again.

They say that you never forget your first show. And it’s true. I’ll never forget how I felt that night, how the venue smelled, what the crowd was like. The difference now is that I know what I can expect from a show. I have a much larger appreciation of the whole process. Some rituals I still adhere to though, I still get ready with my rave friends. But I tend to stay away from the energy drinks and candy beforehand. That shit made me feel so sick my first show!

With deadmau5 having made his triumphant return to Seattle, I can’t help but look back at the first time I saw him live. It makes me feel incredibly happy and excited. That nervousness I used to get before shows, it doesn’t exist anymore because of the fact that I’ve been to so many more, making it practically second nature. I also have a much larger respect for the openers on lineups as well, and sometimes opening sets are even among some of my favorites.

If I have learned anything in my extensive rave career it’s that no matter what you look like, or how you feel, there will always be a place for you on the floor right at the front of the stage. Shows are places you can be utterly yourself without judgment, and it’s truly magical to be around people full of energy who are all there for the same reason: The love of music.

If you take anything away from this article it should be this: Don’t be nervous. You’ll be at home as soon as you arrive. And what I looked forward to the most was taking my best friend to deadmau5’s return last month, for her first show experience. It’s only fitting that her first time should be deadmau5, so I can pass on what I have learned to her and hopefully create new and awesome memories together. That’s all I want for you guys as well: To create lasting memories with your best friends. That’s what shows do, and that’s why we love what we do.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.

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