Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 5:41 am | Fair 39º


Jeff Moehlis: When the Cat’s Away, the Mau5 Will Play

Deadmau5 show at the Santa Barbara Bowl a feast of sound and vision

In an attempt to better serve you, my loyal readers, I decided I would get into the head of deadmau5, who played a fabulously trippy show last Thursday night at the Santa Barbara Bowl.


OK, I also wanted to wear a somewhat unique costume for Halloween this year, so I got a deadmau5 head with lighted eyes on eBay. For the uninitiated, deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse,” actual name Joel Zimmerman) is a Canadian DJ/producer of house music, and as a gimmick of sorts he wears giant heads that look like a cross between Mickey Mouse and Kermit the Frog. The head from eBay cost more money than I care to admit, but it was well worth it.

Why? Well, on Friday night I made just one loop down Del Playa Drive and back, and the response was more than I could have possibly imagined. I was photographed with a bunch of fellow revelers, there were lots of high-fives exchanged and many people told me how much they enjoyed the concert the night before. I was also asked if I had any drugs, and I was offered sex by an enamored coed, which I politely declined.

For that short jaunt through Isla Vista, it was like I was a rock star. Of course, I tried not to let any of this go to my head.

I didn’t see any other deadmau5 heads out in Isla Vista that night, but there were a few in the audience at the concert the night before. There were also hundreds of people wearing glow-stick mouse ears for sale at the merch table, plus — not surprising given how close it was to Halloween — various other costumes.

Such costumes were quite fun to see, but the real treat for the senses came courtesy of deadmau5, who towered above the stage on a 3D platform that, along with two sets of three Q*Bert style cubes, served as the surfaces for a truly amazing light show synched with the music. Images included a Rubik’s Cube, tentacles, flames, cheese and video games such as Pac-Man with a deadmau5 head in the starring role. Of course, Zimmerman’s deadmau5 head, often with lit-up eyes, was an integral part of the visuals.

The music, all under the house music umbrella, ranged from ambient to full-on bass-thumping sonic trips that got the crowd dancing hard. It was mostly instrumental, although during the songs “SOFI Needs a Ladder” and “One Trick Pony” deadmau5 was joined by SOFI (an acronym for Some Other Female Interest), whose vocals provided a nice sonic contrast.

When the evening’s music — which included cool opening sets by Jason Bentley, Le Castle Vania, and Feed Me — ended hours after it began, Zimmerman took the stage sans mouse head and asked for a microphone, saying, “Something is seriously wrong here. You know what it is? This is the first show I’ve ever done ... I’m not making this up. I don’t get up on the mike after a show, I really don’t. I hate the sound of my voice. But there is not a single glow stick on the stage. What the f***?” Of course, a barrage of glow sticks was unleashed.

The real deadmau5 survived this. Unfortunately, the next night my deadmau5 head did not survive. Hey, it ain’t easy walking down Del Playa on Halloween weekend without your deadmau5 ears bumping into everyone! But at least I got the rock star treatment for a short time. Let’s just hope that I’m not a one-hit wonder.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site,

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