For a few hours on Friday night, it was not clear whether Minneapolis would see Deadmau5 at the Deadmau5 show we’d all been looking forward to. After a long stretch stuck on the tarmac at JFK due to a storm, Joel’s plane finally took off, but instead of heading west, the plane had to go south to Florida, then banked northwest to avoid said storm. Once on the ground, Joel was rushed downtown complete with a police escort to get to the venue and was onstage 15 minutes later. Phew!

(If you’re just into pretty pictures, I get it. Here’s the link to a whole bunch of em: LINK)

It was clear upon arrival that Deadmau5’s production team had been at it at least a couple of days to get the cube and all its accouterments put together. The current version of the cube must be four or five times the size of the original cube he toured with the last time he hit Minneapolis, at the now and tragically defunct Epic nightclub. With the stage itself, Joel stood nearly two stories higher than the GA crowd. When the lights cut out, the crowd noise got an excited boost, but when the spotlight cut on projecting a giant mouse head all that way up, the crowd went bonkers.

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The oversized curtain in front of the cube and rear lighting dropped and the lights blipped on and among the screaming and cheers, you could also easily make out an audible group “Awe” at the sight of it. Joel does not mess around when it comes to visuals.

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This felt like a different performance than I’d seen before. The last time the area saw a Deadmau5 show was at Summer Set 2015 when he had a kind of transformer dome set-up, and closed out his set taking a performance art pot-shot at “press play” artists, hitting play on a track, then had a beer with Left Shark, the festival mascot, and a dancing inflatable palm tree. It was kind of funny, but it felt like a dick move for people who came to see music rather than commentary.

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But that also fit in with Joel’s reputation he built for himself, constantly taking issue with and shots at other producers for a long list of issues and got into it with just about everybody. It seemed like every week or two, he’d be going back and forth with somebody and that was all you really ever heard from him. It was tiring.

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Somewhere along the way, the constant confrontations stopped. In my experience, when I most want to lash out at other people, that is when there is something I’m not happy about in my own life. Maybe Joel started working on himself instead. Or maybe his tireless work on his new studio construction kept him busy enough. Or perhaps a savvy manager figured out limit his access to his socials. Whatever it was, the result was an increase in his own output and a bump up in activity for his label, Mau5trap.

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It carried over into his live shows as well, as evidenced by a sold two-hour, no frills, and no performance art set at The Armory. He dipped into a little bit of tech house here and there but mainly kept to his own (not TestPilot) material. The audience responded in kind, consistently cheering as their favorites came on and as the creepy smiling face flipped on on Joe’s mouse helmet, or when the panels of the cube lit up in middle finger emoji’s.

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My experiences at Minneapolis’ newest venue, The Armory, have all been positive, but it seemed like they leveled up for Deadmau5. Lighting along the two upper levels played really well with the stage lighting, the sound was clear as a bell throughout, with the exception of the very back corners, which you only hear when heading to and from the bathrooms. The staff and security were all friendly and helpful. It is such a relief to have a venue of this size run this well in downtown Minneapolis.

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Altogether, it seems like a perfect union for a matured and incredibly effective Deadmau5 in a new and highly capable space. 5/5 would recommend.

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I work, live and play in Minneapolis.

I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.