Leading up to Halloween, San Francisco’s iconic venue, The Midway, acted as the perfect backdrop for the two well-known talents, deadmau5 and ZHU, who brought their distinctive sounds to the Bay Area for one collaborative weekend.
One of the days was dedicated to the spooky atmosphere of “Day of the deadmau5,” and the next day, ZHU and deadmau5 performed their traditional styles of outside-the-lines dance music.
Now, what attendees may or may not have realized was not only were they getting to see these artists, but they were also getting to experience their techno alter egos, deadmau5 as TESTPILOT and ZHU as BLACKLIZT, giving a rare look at their underground personas, as well as the roots of their individual sounds.
We’ve seen a rise in many artists creating these alter egos as a way to explore new creative directions while still staying true to their roots.
Getting to experience two big names in the industry coming together to share the duality of their identities made for a memorable weekend. Keep reading to hear our thoughts on the SF takeover of these two iconic artists:
With a stacked first day featuring “Day of The deadmau5”, we made sure to arrive early for many reasons.
One is that we didn’t want to miss ZHU’s exclusive BLACKLIZT set opening for deadmau5. Two, The Midway has really great food so we had to fuel up for all the dancing. Chicken tenders and Red Bull in hand we headed into the crowd in the open-air venue.
It was easy to recognize even before ZHU took the stage as BLACKLIZT, the setup was already distinguishable from his regular performance, where he typically has a band alongside him.
For BLACKLIZT he was DJing with empty mannequins scattered around him, all framed by a really gorgeous California sunset. The mysterious ZHU energy was present in the stage design, and throughout the set, there was that additional touch of techno seduction that truly differentiated it from his usual sound.
Once the crowd was hyped, it was time. The moment had come for deadmau5 to take center stage and bring us “Day of The deadmau5”.
The buildup was there and for the first few minutes, there was that tease of techno, preparing us for what was to come at the TESTPILOT after-party taking place later that night.
He then made that transition into the more recognizable deadmau5 sound, with all of its intricate complexities that leave a person feeling transported into a euphoric soundscape only a producer of deadmau5’s years of experience is capable of curating.
Along with the high-level production, visuals, and even an entire drone show to go along with the theme, it was truly an immersive experience.
After a stellar show, in true EDM Maniac fashion we of course went to the afters inside the second room of the Midway. There’s no way we were missing a techno afterparty, let alone one featuring deadmau5’s techno alter ego TESTPILOT.
TESTPILOT’s after-party definitely showcased his creative ability to deliver within a different genre. The show gave off that dark, warehouse energy that had much of the crowd hypnotized.
The true techno lovers were the ones still standing. Even though it was the end of the night, many people were still locked into the visuals and dancing, completely in their element.
The next day we were back at the Midway for round two with both deadmau5 and ZHU performing.
It was again a packed house with some of the crowd attending from the previous day. We made it just in time to see ZHU come on stage, and visually it was already a different experience from what was showcased the day before.
On stage was a two-tiered deck with the band set up below and ZHU set above. The set started with some recognizable tracks and then in true ZHU fashion, he really seduced us with his vocals, seamlessly adding the other instruments of the band.
There’s a certain allure that ZHU is able to achieve in all of his live sets, and that seduction was heightened when it started raining in the middle of him singing “In The Morning”.
Finishing the weekend with a bang, deadmau5 showed up with everything he had, kicking off the set with TESTPILOT and transitioning into his more signature melodies. Despite the rain, the energy was still high, with everyone continuing to dance and be immersed in the performance.
Overall, it was a unique experience that not only showcased these two artists’ music, but the creative boundaries they individually continue to push and their ability to curate immersive experiences that create connection between them and their audiences.
All images courtesy of deadmau5.