Live Review: Zeds Dead
Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge, 11.28.12
When I first saw the press release for the SCOPE Production of Zeds Dead, my first response was ďWho the fuck is Zeds Dead?Ē. After a quick poll of those around me, I was able to discern that this was the general response of those most like me. However, a quick Google of the phrase let me know that it wasnít just a rip-off of a beloved Tarantino movie - these guys are big. But, the intriguing popularity of the duo came with one major caveat: these guys are dubsteppers.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that dubstep is one of only a few genres of music I cannot stand. I like to think that I have an open mind when it comes to music, but I just canít wrap my mind around dubstep. All of the familiar stereotypes about the genre ring true to me. In my head, it DOES sound like robots having sex overheard from an adjacent room played over stray cats being attacked by a madman with a lawnmower. I canít tell one song from another, and the lack of any of the traditional pop hooks that usually draw me into the little electronic music I enjoy are not present. However, this is not a dissertation on my dislike for dubstep, it is a review of a show.
Given that I am predisposed to a dislike of the genre on the whole, it would be ridiculous for me to break down the music being played. Instead, I can only report on what I saw. Throughout the entirety of the three acts that played (My apologies to the opening acts, I didnít catch the names), the crowd was fully into what they saw. While the crowd was clearly present for the headliner, they gave each of the supporting DJs all of the respect and energy that they gave the headliners. Even the slightly awkward local first act got the smallish crowd moving and shaking their asses from the get go. Given that the ravers are not the most prompt of concert attendees, the energy the few people in attendance at the showís beginning was truly surprising. In fact, the crowd will likely be the memory I keep from the whole experience - itís no small feat to get a crowd going early on in the show, and it might be even harder to get as many people collectively losing their minds as Zeds Dead did. Despite my dislike for the music, I have to tip my hat to the guys for getting well over ninety percent of the crowd dancing like the apocalypse itself was bearing down on the IMU.
As I watched Zeds Dead transform a University-owned property into a full-on rave, I had a minor revelation: This must be what my friends experience when I try to get them to go to heavy metal shows with me. I also noted that metal and dubstep share a striking amount of similarities once one gets past the obvious sonic differences. Both are genres that have incredibly dedicated audiences. Both have shows where the audience is as much of the draw as the artist is, both have distinct forms of dancing the you donít see anywhere else, no matter what. Both have fans that are likely under the influence of some sort of intoxicant, and the unspoken dress code brings out some truly innovative fashion choices.
I canít say that I enjoyed any moment of Zeds Deadís show, but I also wonít damn the show outright. The guys delivered what was expected of them and then some, and the crowd ate it up at an alarming rate. Much like heavy metal isnít for everyone, dubstep is just not for me, but that doesnít mean that itís not for everyone. If youíre a fan, these guys will probably hit your sweet spot pretty quickly, but it didnít do a thing for me.
Thanks again to Mack Sheehy and all of SCOPE for putting on the show, and thanks to Zak Neumann for taking the pictures. Find his work over at his website, and then ask him why the hell he hasn't formed GUNT yet.