Sure you hear his tracks on the radio everyday and Spotify may be your best friend when it comes to tracking his past hits, but Zedd sounds entirely different when he’s manning the deck live.
At the Philippine leg of the Ultra Music Festival (UMF) last Sept. 15 staged at the Mall of Asia Arena, Zedd’s transitions were as kinetic as his beats—never playing one song for too long, or if you ask me, never enough. But the multi-awarded DJ knew just how to hook his audience without dropping the bass too early.
His first song was “Beautiful Now.” Zedd made a simple entrance by playing the stripped version of this mix, which put prime focus on Jon Bellion’s vocals at the bridge of the song. It didn’t take long for Zedd to play around, he quickly shuffled to “Starving” and “All the Way Up” to pump up the crowd in his third live set in Manila.
He got everyone singing to “Rude,” which he followed with a series of teasers that cued for an epic beat drop—but there wasn’t any. Instead he surprised the audience with the first stanza of “Wake Me Up,” and in the crowd’s height of exhilaration he gives them another favorite—“Heroes.”
Now Zedd has a full arsenal of hits to experiment with on deck, but he also has some classics to turn to—that when played, the audience had nothing but cheers and applause to give. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Billie Jean,” as well as Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” met a modern remix at UMF this year.
We loved it when the rhythm of his known mix of “The Legend of Zelda” was given a more upbeat tune. At UMF, Zedd’s arrangement for Arianna Grande’s “I’m so Into You” also came with a dreamier vibe.
But the way Zedd designed his setlist was polaric—when he stripped tracks of some beats, he was sure to introduce progressive house mixes in the next minutes. When he played darker house tracks with heavier beats, he tempered it with “Stay.”
“Ultra, are you ready?” Zedd asked the crowd.
As he lightened the mood with Alessia Cara’s vocals, he gave the audience a dance mix that would make you want to do the shuffle. The quick and snappy beats introduced “Rather Be,” which the audience gladly sang along with.
Using “Reload” to control the rhythm, he played “I Want You to Know” and “Follow You Down” over it before he let his most celebrated song “Clarity” flood the entire arena. If there’s one thing Zedd knows, it’s taking classic EDM hits like “Reload” and playing today’s hits on it that would have everyone swaying with a mix to remember.
Zedd had control of that entire arena. The music, the crowd, the laser lights—he was the conductor of that crazy psychedelic show—and it’s honestly the best set the Ultra festivalgoers have ever seen.