“All squares are rectangles; not all rectangles are squares.” I think my second grade teacher taught me that one. As irrelevant as it seems, a similar way of thinking can be applied to electronic music. Not all DJs are producers, and not all producers are DJs. Some, like Zeds Dead, are able to dominate both those areas of expertise, as they proved in a mind-blowing back-to-school show at the Orpheum Theater Friday night.
The party got started a little after 9 p.m., as Madison’s own The Al Gore Rhythm Method provided an enthusiastic opening. Hip-hop producer Just Blaze took the stage around 10:30 p.m., by which time the sold-out Orpheum had filled to near capacity. Better known for his work in the hip-hop industry, Just Blaze has recently been producing songs of the trap genre, which was apparent in the second half of his wide-ranging, hour-long set.
Zeds Dead emerged at midnight, much to the delight of the turnt-up crowd, and the duo took the energy to the next level. A remarkable hour-and-a-half-long set featured Zeds Dead remixes, originals and songs by other artists that spanned many genres. Their impeccable ability to control the crowd is always what amazes me about Zeds Dead performances; the boys always have new songs in their sets and tie them together in a way that keeps the audience engaged, excited and dancing the whole time.
Some of the more memorable songs of the night were their bass-heavy originals such as “Adrenaline” and “In the Beginning,” both featured on their Adrenaline EP. Additionally, they played arguably their most famous remix of Blue Foundation’s “Eyes on Fire,” which had the crowd grooving back and forth to its melodious vibes. At the end of the show, as is tradition at Zeds Dead concerts, the duo requested the crowd to put up their familiar “ZD” hand symbol, took a crowd photo and left the stage, leaving behind a beyond-satisfied Orpheum crowd.