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April 16, 2024

Zeds Dead opens Northern Lights tour in Baltimore

By DUBRAY KINNEY | October 6, 2016

Canadian electronic duo, Zeds Dead, opened their lastest world tour (with shows in Canada and Europe) at Rams Head Live! this past Thursday. The duo brought Getter and Mija collaborator Ghastly with them as an opener.

I arrived towards the middle of Ghastly’s set, and Zeds Dead’s popularity could be seen by the sheer number of people who showed up for the  performance. The entirety of the main floor of Rams Head was packed shoulder to shoulder with people of all ages (fitting for an all ages show).

The general vibe of the crowd tended toward the high school to college-aged demographic with a few older people hanging around the edges of the crowd. There was also a noticeable gravitation towards rave-like attire, with tons of Zeds Dead merch on every third or fourth crowd member (of course).

The sheer size of the audience led me to find new, weird spots of Rams Head that I’d never been to before out of sheer necessity. Since the floor was packed by the time the main act got onstage, I had to head upstairs, which was also packed and even further back to a series of bleachers (which turned out to be the best spot to catch the show if you weren’t interested in light moshing).

What followed was at least four hours of drops, wubs and angelic vocal samples to create electro-house-like tunes.

Ghastly proved to be a rightful opener to Zeds Dead with a set that might pull a few comparisons to the similarly named (yet differently skilled) NGHTMRE. There was definitely a trap influence, but Ghastly was more ready to show his ability to add a drop to any song that he could, including a blink-182 track and a popular Bring Me The Horizon song. Ghastly ended his set with a crowd-led sing-a-long of Afroman’s cult hit, “Because I Got High.”

Ghastly’s set was technically tight and in some ways better than the headliners. He worked in his transitions (much smoother overall). Yet there were many things that his performance fell flat on, including the aforementioned weirder song choices which may have seemed kitschy or novel at first glance but ultimately killed the vibe for this listener (although the rest of the audience bit into each song hard).

Following this performance there was a 20-minute interlude, while even more people piled in for the headliners. After much wait the act that everyone was here to see, Zeds Dead, was finally on stage and quickly the true star of the performance made themselves known.

The lights guy proved to be the real MVP and he helped Zeds Dead set themselves apart from every other DJ that waltzes through Baltimore, with an 8-bit-esque backdrop for their opening song projected behind the duo while a steady stream of at least 16 lights projected in front of them (switching between steady beams and a sometimes obnoxious strobe).

Soon the duo worked their way from a lighter, tighter set of songs to open their set, to a roaring collection of classics (from other artists as well as themselves) to cruise through the rest of the show.

The performance left something to be desired however. One of the biggest strikes against the duo is their lack of cohesion in the transitions from song to song. Coming from Moonrise Festival this past summer where artists such as Tiesto and Griz melded tracks into each other, the edge to some of Zeds Dead’s track movements proved jarring.

A few of the drops proved to be poorly timed as well. One that sticks out in my mind was a sample tag of Schoolboy Q’s trademark “Yawk, Yawk, Yawk!” which could’ve easily transitioned into a trap-filled remix of “M.A.A.D City,” but the duo had other ideas.

That said, when the duo hit their marks, they hit them well. The performance left me with a good amount of criticism towards Zeds Dead, but perhaps that was because there was a great amount of potential. That said, the Northern Lightstour proved a fun outing for anyone interested in EDM.

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