I have three major loves in my life: dancing, traveling, and the producer known as deadmau5. When you catch the travel bug, it is hard to let go of attending every event. FOMO is real. When I chose Red Rocks as the first Cube v3 show to attend for the post-Halloween Day of the deadmau5, I knew I would be moved by the stunning views of Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado… I just had no idea how much. It was the last venue in the United States that I had on my list of must-sees. You know what they say… save the best for last.
It is abundantly obvious when you climb up a mountain (a first for me) and take in the incredible natural beauty of Red Rocks, that it is one of the most stunningly beautiful and mystifying natural venues a music fan will ever see in their life. I feel blessed just to have been there, let alone coupling that with my favorite artist of all time. Years ago my life was incredibly different. I never expected to share my passion for music, travel, and art with the world… and to take in such splendor that the universe has to offer.
We arrived one week a smidge too late for perfect Colorado weather for an outdoor event. I had assembled a crew of festival family and we took the party bus into Red Rocks. I highly recommend this option, as waiting in the line of cars to arrive and leave seemed more daunting than the option of being shuttled in. Upon arrival, we waited in line at the very top, shortly thereafter realizing that not only was the air thinner (altitude is no joke) but that we were already freezing. Oops… I thought I wore enough layers.
The view of the amphitheatre was impressive. Icicles hung down from its massive rocks, no doubt left over from the heavy snowstorm that hit Denver just a few days prior to our arrival. Winter at Red Rocks is stunning. So much so, that I now have a goal to hit a Spring, Summer, and Fall show in the most beautiful state I have crossed off my bucket list. “This might be my only time in Colorado,” I said before my trip. Famous last words.
We arrived shortly before the one DJ that has alluded my ears all year, the chainsmoking techno king himself, i_o. We chose tickets for Red Rocks before the lineups were announced, and luckily we hit the jackpot as his set announced for Friday. I am a huge techno fan, and I had heard claims of i_o being closer to “business techno.” This assessment couldn’t be further from the truth. He laid down a banging set – definitely one of my favorite techno sets I have heard in recent memory. Must be something in the water at Mau5trap records, because every single artist on the label is impressive in their own respects.
I have lost count of the number of times I have seen deadmau5 or his techno alias Testpilot play, but never have I witnessed such a marvel of human ingenuity as the Cube v3. I have seen every iteration of the cube as he has progressed over the years, and I was still mystified at v3. The cube’s ability to rotate around deadmau5, and maintain a slight translucence while producing the most incredible video art on all sides, is truly a marvel. Combining that with such a stupendous natural background like Red Rocks gave me the feeling that I was witnessing history. The setlist was all-encompassing for his expansive catalog, and of course, he dropped my favorite track of all time, “Strobe.” Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would get to see “Raise Your Weapon” sung live by Lights.
So “how does it feel to watch it burn?” The music was fire, but up in the stands, my lack of proper layering felt like frostbite. All 100 percent worth it to witness this phenomenal set that closed out the season for Red Rocks. Whether you were up close and personal, or higher in the stands witnessing the pulsating lights of Denver below… there literally isn’t a bad view at Red Rocks. Climbing the stairs to the very top signs that say to “check your heart rate at the summit” made me notice that even as a dancer/ athlete, I should have trained harder for Red Rocks. The entire amphitheatre is a staircase. Thankfully, I love the Stairmaster. We bid Red Rocks adieu and headed back to the cutest Airbnb I’ve ever stayed in to rest up for the pop-up occurring Saturday.
We decided brunch was necessary in the morning and chose a location close to the deadmau5 pop-up. I had fought the crowd from one side to the very other to purchase some merch at Red Rocks but wanted to see what selection the pop up would provide. More than only merch, two lines formed around the building filled with fans eager to get a glimpse of deadmau5 himself, who announced a meet and greet on social media just days prior.
Can you imagine the childlike glee of meeting your favorite electronic artist of all time? Although I tried to hold my cool… I was literally bursting with excitement. The die-hards in line were showing off their merch, albums, mau5heads, and even tattoos. I knew I was in great company. You could feel the energy in the air. No one seemed to care about the line, which was much shorter for those who had downloaded the streaming service Tidal.
The first thing he noticed was my hoodie, remarking “I didn’t know we made those anymore.” Well, Joel, that is how long I have been a super fan. We spoke about his first Ultra set I was blessed to see him play when he filled in for The Prodigy, and how his music has developed over the years. I was pretty proud of myself – I didn’t overly fan-girl out, faint, or cry (although inside I wanted to). He was gracious, polite, and funny.
Once I collected myself outside from the experience, I was ready to hit the last party of my whirlwind weekend. Temple in Denver was hosting the Red Rocks after-hours with a special set from deadmau5 and of course, I was hopeful for a Testpilot set. He played an excellent mix of techno and classic deadmau5, which fit the ambiance and LED walls of the club perfectly. Temple was packed to the brim, so I found a more open place to dance by the bar with a former colleague of mine I had been itching to meet for years. What a magical way to end the deadmau5 weekend in Colorado. He even played his remix of “Smack My Bitch Up“, which brought my experience full circle from the first set I witnessed him ever play in Miami.
I’m already planning the next stop for the Cube v3 Tour, and I highly suggest those of you who have not seen it in person do the same. For those of you blessed with his Testpilot set at Seismic... I am super jealous of you!
*Featured photo via Leah Sems