Review: ZEDD at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Stadium

Review: ZEDD at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Stadium

Friday nights are for partying. Yes, even in Vancouver. Tonight, this rule was extra relevant, as UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium was invaded by the dance gods. Tonight, Germany-via-Russia’s Anton Zaslavski, better known to EDM fans as DJ juggernaut and superproducer ZEDD, showed up with lazers, strobes, and, most importantly, an infectious collection of party jams that temporarily turned the sports complex into a rave-ready wonderland.

Dance fans in the packed stadium were treated to a feast of the senses for several hours, beginning with sets by openers Lophiile and Grey.

During Grey’s set, brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha banked on the success of their biggest single “Starving”, a collaboration with pop vocalist Hailee Steinfeld and, ironically, ZEDD himself. The LA-based sibling duo had no problem getting the crowd revved up for the main act with a dynamic set that proved the perfect appetizer for ZEDD’s colourful spectacular of a set.

Photography by Bar Perry

Photography by Bar Perry

By the time ZEDD hit the stage on his towering platform, shrouded by a translucent curtain before him, the feverish crowd was buzzing with excitement. As he opened with his glorious anthem “Beautiful Now”, it was evident even from the first few seconds that tonight’s performance would be truly special. Over the next several hours, fans would be treated to a greatest hits of ZEDD’s impressive career.

Despite his ever growing canon of personal hits, ZEDD had no problem straying from his own catalogue to sample, mix, and feature other artists across genres and decades. Big, bountiful classics like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” received huge pops from the crowd, as did more contemporary tracks like Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be”, Icona Pop’s “I Love It”, and Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”.

ZEDD even tipped his hat to his contemporary dance tastemakers DJ Snake and Major Lazer by including their music in his set.
Given it was the first night of his headlining Echo Tour, ZEDD pulled out all the stops to impress his devout crowd with some bells and whistles that all added to the set. In the world of EDM, more is more, and nothing seems gratuitous.In this universe, the mantra must be “The bigger, the better”, because no cost was spared to make ZEDD’s set into a blockbuster production.

Photography by Bar Perry

Photography by Bar Perry

Early on during his remix of Magic!’s “Rude”, colourful streamers shot out of cannons into the crowd. Later, his megahit “Stay” featuring Alessia Cara was an opportunity for actual fireworks to shoot off the front of the stage. Throughout the rest of the set, big, beautiful graphics lit up the arena in bright, kaleidoscopic colours, sometimes juxtaposed with video art featuring YouTube viral superstars or the dancing Snapchat hotdog. Clearly ZEDD knows his audience.

There was smoke, fire, and lazers all packed into the show, and everything worked cohesively under his artistic umbrella.

Being no stranger to the top of the charts, ZEDD packs quite a hit list of familiar and memorable tunes, featuring fan favourite vocalists. This set proved as a reminder of just how many killer jams ZEDD has written and produced. The short list featured tonight alone included “Break Free” (with Ariana Grande), “Stay The Night” (with Hayley Williams of Paramore), and the recent summer jam “Get Low” (with former One Direction band member Liam Payne).But nothing managed to make the crowd swoon more than his signature track “Clarity”, the ultimate ode to the feel good, doe-eyed nature that made fans fall in love with EDM in the first place. And, like any well calculated artist, ZEDD threw it in just as the crowd started to wind down, reminding them that along with peace, love, unity, and respect, EDM is about dancing your ass off and feeling damn good at the same time.

Photography by Bar Perry

Photography by Bar Perry