Russian-German producer and electronic dance music artist Zedd — aka Anton Zaslavski — rolled into NRG Stadium, dropped some big beats, played the hits, and brought a massive light and fireworks display that got people boot scootin' in the aisles in a big way.
They had room to groove. The rave ringmaster drew only 54,959 attendees on Friday night, the second-lowest number of 2019 so far, in the bottom 10 draws over the last five years at RodeoHouston.
Numbers aside, Zedd had plenty of big moments to make it an entertaining spectacle, quite easily the best visuals of the rodeo season (lights were specially installed by the local company LD Systems) with lasers, strobes, and black lights. Fireworks also accompanied a number of songs, leaving NRG with a dense haze in the air at the end of the night.
If a DJ's job is to play to the crowd, Zedd earned his money, maintaining high energy throughout the set. The 29-year-old wunderkind started the night off with platinum-selling hit "Beautiful Now," smartly dressed in a cowboy hat, quickly amping up the crowd into a frenzy. He played his best known songs, including 2015 Top 20 track, "I Want You Now" featuring Selena Gomez; 2017 Top 10 hit "Stay" with previous RodeoHouston performer Alessia Cara; Top 20 2013 song "Stay the Night" with Hayley Williams of Paramore; and last year's infectious Top 10 chart banger "The Middle" with country crossover star Maren Morris, all of which the crowd enthusiastically cheered.
Zedd also dropped in well known selections for those who might not be dance music die-hards, including a snippet of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck," a remix of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" with its recognizable bass riff, a remix of Grammy Award Song of the Year "This is America" by Childish Gambino, and the massive karaoke-meets-air guitar belt-out of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
While it was only him and his gear on-stage, Zedd proved adept at being his own hype man, getting the crowd involved with hand-waving, shout-outs to Houston, and awesomely enticing everyone to jump in unison during "Shotgun."
Zedd finished off the night with his Grammy Award-winning "Clarity" followed by what sounded like a '90s dial-up modem tone coda, lights flashing furiously, fireworks fiercely shooting in the air. Squint your eyes hard enough, and we swear the dirt on the NRG Stadium floor resembled a sandy beach in Ibiza.
Two years ago, The Chainsmokers, then at the height of their chart-topping powers, attracted over 75,000 on a Sunday afternoon, a lot of families and attendees of all ages filling seats. Friday night was more of an adult affair, much more sparse than last week's record-setting Cardi B performance, parents perhaps not wanting to keep the kiddos up late or it being the start of spring break for many local school districts. Booking a big time dance act deserves praise; it adds diversity to the generally country heavy line-up, but don't be surprised if any future booking gets moved back to a weekend slot.
The ticket sales might have been low, but let's hope that doesn't scare RodeoHouston organizers from bringing back acts that can get butts shaking.
"Beautiful Now" - Zedd featuring Jon Bellion
"Animals" - Martin Garrix
"Bad Company" - Dirtcaps & DJ Afrojack featuring Stush
"This is America" (Felckin Remix) - Childish Gambino
"Need to Feel Loved" - Cosmis Gate & Forêt
"I Want You to Know" - Zedd featuring Selena Gomez
"Starving" (Bali Bandits Remix) - Hailee Steinfeld and Grey featuring Zedd
"Seven Nation Army" (Press Play Remix) - The White Stripes and Press Play
"With Me" - Laidback Luke X Florian Picasso featuring Tania Zygar
"The Time (Dirty Bit)" (Zedd Remix) - The Black Eyed Peas
"Mi Gente" (Cedric Gervais Remix) - J Balvin and Willy William and Cedric Gervais
"Shotgun" - Zedd
"Wake Me Up" - Avicii
“Don’t You Worry Child” – Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin
“Rude” (Zedd Remix) – Magic! – great lights, got people dancing
“Stay (Oriental Cravings Remix)” – Zedd featuring Alessia Cara
“Stay” – Zedd featuring Alessia Cara
“Stay” (Tritonal Remix) - Zedd featuring Alessia Cara and Tritonal
“Redlight” - Marten Hörger & SkiiTour
"Stay the Night" - Zedd featuring Hayley Williams
“Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
“I Don’t Care” – Icona Pop
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” – Whitney Houston & WillSinis
“The Middle” – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
“Clarity” (Extended Mix) – Zedd featuring Foxes