The amount of excitement bustling from Verboten's thick grey walls this past Saturday was almost tangible. June 6, 2015 marked one of the venue's biggest nights in history. Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, played his Governor's Ball afterparty at Brooklyn's favorite venue for just a mere 700 fans. There are really no words to describe just how monumental the occurrence of this event was. When word first got out that DEADMAU5 was set to perform at one of the most intimate, revered venues in New York City, fans were thrown in a frenzy. There was nothing close to mild about my reaction when I heard this news, and for the upcoming months it was all I could think about. As expected, Zimmerman did not disappoint; in fact, I can safely say he surpassed all expectations of a true Mau5 fan.
First off, honorable mention needs to be made for the Verboten team for making the decision to NOT honor resold tickets. After the show sold out in less than three seconds (literally), fans were enraged to see many of them lost their spot to scalpers. A bold move indeed, and potential money lost on their part, the nightclub made the move to get back at the countless offenders who attempted to steal tickets away from true fans (in fact, one bold rigamaroll tried to flip a ticket on Stubhub for $57,000). A noble gesture that spoke volumes to the community and mau5fans alike! Now onto the extensively thorough and emotional event review:
Me and my crew walked into Verboten around midnight; although a little later than intended, the line was surprisingly short and the venue still had an ample amount of elbow room. Verboten kept security and attendees well organized, with only very minimal pushing towards the front of the crowd. At this point, ATTLAS was on stage dropping some surprising tracks, including originals by Brodinski and Matthew Dear.
Reality abruptly set in when the lyrics of "Sometimes Things Get Complicated" bellowed through Verboten's sound system, as we looked up a small figure with a baseball cap and colorful tattoos popped onto the stage. Mayhem ensued as people realized Joel was in the building, and preparing to perform. Emotional and overwhelmed, we made our way to the front as it dawned on us we were about to see Deadmau5 play an entire 2 hour techno set (cue the heavy breathing).
A bit unorthodox for Mr. Zimmerman, who often performs large stages at festivals complete with monstrous spectacular productions, the small intimate club setting was the perfect place for him to experiment with his lesser known dark, minimal, aphotic style. There's really no words to describe the Mau5's Verboten set except stunning and exceptional. His long awaited return to the club scene had been highly anticipated; in my personal opinion, he delivered flawlessly.
Throughout the night I heard countless people among the crowd complaining he was not playing the set they wanted, a clear lack of his classic hits. It would have been painfully naive to expect Joel to play a cookie cutter set of Random Album Title and 4x4=12 tracks at a club like Verboten. But alas, he served us just that and more; if you didn't pick up on it, that's on you. The entire set was chock full of Deadmau5 classics remastered into deep, tech-heavy versions. In fact, he almost played only songs he produced. From what I could remember, he dropped the following: The Longest Road, Not Exactly, My Pet Coelacanthe, Cthulhu Sleeps (damn right), Word Problems, Bad Selection, Complications, Careless, Phantom's Can't Hang, Gula, and many more. If I'm not mistaken, Joel even played a few short segments of Chicken, (that random collab he made with Tommy Lee and Steve Duda in 2008 - and one of his most underrated in my opinion). This is just a facet of an explanation for just how skilled Deadmau5 is, mixing expertly and morphing his classics into something completely different, but just as phenomenal and sharp - he's much more than just a one trick pony.
So besides being thrown into an impassioned whirlwind of Mau5-feels all night, what were the top most memorable moments?
5. When he decided to drop The Longest Road less than 15 minutes into his set , an undeniably gorgeous track which is seldom ever played live. It became extremely apparent who was there for the Mau5 and who was there for the "show" when half the crowd was lost and unknowing of one lyric.
4. Cthulhu Sleeps in its entirety, being played louder than I ever thought I'd ever hear it! If you don't know it (even though you should), listen to it right now. It's the type of track that makes your eyes roll back in your head just because it's so damn heavy; was anyone else getting flashbacks of those manic green tentacles?
3. Joel also, as expected, dropped bits and pieces of Ghosts N' Stuff throughout the night, which undoubtedly lifted the ambiance to a new level of joy. No one could help but sing along in unison as the classic track oscillated against the vibrating walls.
2. Taking a break from the dark and devilish tech style he was playing with for most of the night, Zimmerman, in all his king of trolls glory, blasted Levels (that's right, by Avicii) with 20 minutes left to spare in his set. Some were confused, others laughing, because if there's anyone anyone who can get away with blowing Verboten's speakers out with GODDAMN LEVELS, its Joel f*cking Zimmerman. Snarky and arrogant, just as we like him.
1. And of course, if any of you reading this was there, you already KNOW what the number one moment of the night was. Joel closed with STROBE. That's right, GOD DAMN STROBE. In typical Mau5 fashion it was a long drawn out tease, with only segments of notes being mixed it for the first minute and a half with Oliver $'s Doin Yo Thang. The expressions of manic elation hitting single attendees as we slowly started recognizing what was about to occur. As the full melody started flowing out of the speakers, the crowd was overwrought with frantic levels of ecstasy and bliss. Friends grabbing friends, screaming and reaching out towards their beloved Mau5. Verboten lit up with a galaxy of colors from every spectrum, ricocheting off the giant disco ball onto every surface imaginable. We all joined arms lost in our pure, crystalline euphoria as the intro of Strobe swam through our veins. I have never seen such a caliber of bright, uplifting energy reverberate through a crowd. And when the hook dropped? Well, to put it lightly, the entire club lost their sh*t.
Check out the chill-inducing moment below:
As Joel said goodbye and made his way back stage, I could not help but notice the hundreds of arms reaching forward in bittersweet farewells. Despite the venue being completely packed to capacity by the end of the night, we really have no complaints. The set was short but oh so satisfying, and the crowd was surprisingly pleasant. Joel lived up to our expectations and played exactly the way he should have. He graciously thanked the crowd and Verboten for a damn good time, and we could not thank him in return more. So next time the Mau5 plays a club in NYC, you better get your ass over there - because it's a night you'll never forget.
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