Zimmerman adopted his rodent alter-ego after finding a dead mouse inside his computer and relaying the info to friends on an Internet chat board. His music is strikingly well-composed, with an apparent focus on production that is perhaps unmatched within his genre. Songs like 'Raise Your Weapon' and 'Strobe' are sensitive, ethereal and energetic in a way that translates seamlessly to a performance that feels, frankly, a bit like mass. Perched in his infamous cube, which reportedly cost over $2 million dollars to create, and surrounded by keyboards, mixers and other equipment, Zimmerman glides through songs with exacting precision. Dubstep-heavy openers such as 'Excision' and 'Feed Me' batter the crowd with wobbly sounds that make Deadmau5's set feel supremely clean and well put together.
The energy on Friday's show seemed a bit calmer than some of his other shows (Zimmerman himself tweeted that Friday's felt "a more tamale" and responded to a follower expressing disappointment in Sunday's show with "Technical issues with crazy glue and a mousehead, and oxygen tank, and a mouse determined to finish the set. What do you want?"). That said, his sets are entirely consistent, which Zimmerman told us is by design when we chatted with him at Outside Lands. "I don't want someone to see me and tell their friends 'Oh man, it was so awesome when he dropped this or that track,' and have that friend go see me expecting that and not get it," he said. "This way everyone gets to have the same experience."
In the hours before his opening show on Tuesday, Roseland Ballroom presented Zimmerman with a mouse-head cake from none other than the Cake Boss, and Ultra Records president Patrick Moxey was on hand to deliver the certified gold record for deadmau5's 2009 single 'Ghosts N Stuff.'
There are, of course, other gimmicks. Aside from just the various masks (by Friday's show, the night Spinner stopped by, someone had stolen his alternate mousehead so he wore the cheesehead design that one of his over four million Facebook fans submitted to his contest) there is the kistchy "death" he performs near the end of vocalist SOFI's appearance on stage, reappearing under a sheet and then resurrecting back to the cube. SOFI (nee Sofia Toufa, who appears most famously on 'SOFI Needs a Ladder') adds an injection of energy and, oddly enough, levity to a set that can feel heavy and dramatic. Since Zimmerman never speaks, it would be almost distressing to listen to his set without some vocal reprieve.
And if Zimmerman can be a bit of a curmudgeon in interviews, SOFI is more than happy to pick up slack on the niceties. Spinner asked her how the tour was going, and here's a transcript of our chat:
You've played a bunch of festivals and countless club shows by now. Do you prefer one over the other?
I really can't say I do. I've been fortunate enough to have the perfect balance between club shows, Deadmau5 concerts and giant festivals. I totally dig the intimate grimey clubs as much as I love the challenge of playing in front of 80,000 people that come to see all kinds of bands at a festival.
Which cities stand out as having particularly great energy?
New York is always amazing. The shows here at the Roseland have been insane. I've also played here earlier this year with Tommy Lee and Aero, Porter Robinson and Skrillex at Webster Hall. It was the very first time people sang every single lyric of 'SOFI Needs a Ladder,' which was pretty overwhelming.
What's it like to play six nights at Roseland? Does it get tiring at all to do the same routine for almost a week straight in the same place, or is it better than traveling?
It's not tiring at all. In a way, it brings somewhat of a routine into the constant moving touring life. It kinda feels nice and as far as it being the same -- it really isn't. The crowd is different every night, I think a couple shows were all ages, which I personally love. So in that sense it feels like being at a different place with the comfort of knowing you get to wake up, go to the same coffee shop around the corner and get somewhat familiar. And six nights at the Roseland? Whoa!