It’s been a full decade since German DJ, songwriter and producer Anton Zaslavski, better known by his stage name Zedd, released his chart-topping debut album Clarity. In celebration, Zedd brought four nights of sentimental supercharged beats to San Francisco, including a performance at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Oct. 8.
In addition to playing every single fan favorite from the Grammy-studded album, Zedd flaunted his wide-ranging DJing skill, sliding in remixes of beloved pop music tracks to keep each of his four separate sets unique.
Zedd’s extensive performing experience was proudly on display right from the start of his set. Before the DJ walked onto stage, a solid minute of crescendoing audio and thumping beats pounded the auditorium in conjunction with magical, galaxy-like swirls of green, purple and blue flashing on and off on the three enormous screens backlighting the stage.
Finally, strobes lit up and darkened the room as Zedd shouted to the crowd before the first epic bass drop of the night elated the crowd. Smoke shot out from the stage and a row of fireworks graced the room, foreshadowing what would be an explosively enjoyable evening.
Each time the lights would flicker off, Zedd’s silhouette stood out on an elevated stage, matching the wild energy of the bassline and the room. To rhythmic “ey, ey”s and “ooh, ooh”s shouted by the sea of ravers jam-packed on the floor, Zedd pumped his fist and jumped along to his first freestyle mix.
Zedd was able to introduce an incredible amount of variation into his set, which was carried along by the diversity of lighting, strobe effects and pyrotechnics he had at his disposal. The first identifiable track, “Spectrum” cut the frenetic freestyled beginning of the set. Soothingly consistent pink, purple and blue swirls faded in and out of form into Zedd’s logo as the entire room chanted in unison, “I will never let you go.”
This stable singalong was suddenly disrupted as the song distorted and Zedd threw in his own freestyled mixing. The screens behind the DJ flashed red, then white, then black, all before electrifying beams of red and blue swam over the audience. The bass dropped, and another spectacular round of fireworks sent the room into a sweaty, manic dancing frenzy.
Tempo changes were not the only surprises Zedd had in store. Just when the audience thought the set could not get any more spirited, Zedd fed the background instrumentals for ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” to the lyric-hungry crowd. During what may have been the best drop of the night, Zedd’s logo flashed behind him in cyan, magenta and yellow while narrow beams covered the heads of the audience.
In the Civic Auditorium, Zedd proved his mastery at generating rave stamina. When playing his most popular, recognizable tracks’ lyrics, lighting effects were kept to a minimum. As a result, the audience’s focus was lasered onto the emotional words streaming out from speakers and attendees with equal volume, such as during “I Want You To Know” featuring Selena Gomez.
People choose to go to these sorts of events for those strangely intimate moments. Drenched in sweat, attendees take a break from their otherwise non-stop dancing to chant lyrics they’ve only heard endless times in headphones and car rides — chant them here, right now, live with the artist and hundreds of others that love it as much as they do.
Magnetic energy drew the crowd close together while bright yellow, green and orange beams complemented the sea of phone cameras pointed at the stage before the bass exploded, causing the beams to swim around the room.
Between frantically fevered bouts of celebratory dancing, Zedd could be seen on screens on both sides of the stage, chanting with the crowd, nodding his head to his mixes and wearing a smile mirrored on every face in the room. Through freshly DJed versions of “Push Play,” “Starving,” “Stay the Night,” “Beautiful Now” and, of course, “Clarity,” Zedd built two hours of unimaginable and unforgettable energy, light displays and well-deserved celebration for his now decade-long career.