It’s nearly 9:30 p.m. in Austin, Texas and Kx5 — the electronic dance music supergroup of Kaskade and deadmau5 — quietly take the stage. They hardly go unnoticed, though, as the fans packed on the lawn at the Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park begin to scream for the legends.
“Austin!” Kaskade yells into his mic, showing the city some love before returning his full attention back to his deck, as he and deadmau5 perform with precision a steady stream of syrupy and hypnotic hits beginning with set opener “Bright Lights.”
With lyrics like, “There’s a place… we can go… for a feeling…” the pair set the tone for the third and final night (Saturday, March 18) of Billboard’s South By Southwest concert series. And together, the two deliver a much-needed communal dance party to cap off what was, for most, a nonstop week.
The headlining set could not come at a better time for Kaskade and deadmau5, either, as just 24 hours earlier Kx5 released its self-titled debut album — over a decade after the two first partnered up. Rightfully so, the night is a celebratory culmination of all of the above.
Throughout the set — which clocks in at just over an hour long and utilizes over 50 lights and frequent fog blasts — Kaskade and deadmau5 deliver sky-high drops tailor made for roller coaster enthusiasts — especially on new track “Eat Sleep,” which blends into a snippet of an industrial, deconstructed remix of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”
Later, during the atmospheric album cut “When I Talk” deadmau5 lights up — creating his own personal mini fog machine — while “Sacrifice,” which features Sofi Tukker, prompts Kaskade to yell “C’mon!” while reclining his upper body into a small standing backbend.
As the show reaches its halfway point, the soaring drops and bursts of fog seem to occur in more rapid succession as the show builds, The crowd reacts accordingly, with one devoted fan dancing along holding two circular press-down night lights that in this environment more resemble floating orbs.
To prepare for the set’s peak, the pair dive into “Escape,” a melodic daydream off Kx5 on which British singer-songwriter Hayla questions: “What if I escape?” For most in attendance, this show offered just that — even if only for a brief while.
During the song, deadmau5 shows Kaskade something on his phone, to which the two react with wide eyes and jaws dropped before honing in with laser focus for their final minutes on stage. And just then, the Kx5 logo that opened the show reappears onscreen, indicating they are indeed coming full circle.
The ride is ending.
But not before one final hit. The one, of course, that started it all: “I Remember.”
“This song is old enough to vote!” deadmau5 declares with a wide smile. He then hops down from the platform which has housed him and Kaskade for the last 60-plus minutes, bringing his beer with him, to take a well-deserved bow and applaud his partner, who stays glued to his deck until the last resounding note reaches the final row of fans.
And as the two begin to walk off the stage, the anticipated chant for an encore begins. But after a closer like that, Kx5 made sure to give a performance no one will forget.
Even so, one bawling fan could be heard telling friends: “I need to see this again.”