Zedd Makes a Strong Case to Give EDM a Permanent RodeoHouston Slot

Zedd and his crew provided sheer entertainment last night at the rodeo.
Zedd and his crew provided sheer entertainment last night at the rodeo. Photo by David "Odiwams" Wright
NRG Stadium
March 8, 2K19

The big question mark in the 2019 RodeoHouston lineup was never Cardi B. Sure, that show was fun to speculate about, but the reality was always that Cardi B is too smart and too popular to fail, even at the Rodeo; the odds of Cardi putting on a bad show in front of that crowd were about the same as George Strait bombing out.

No, the real question mark was smack dab in the middle of the lineup, in the form of EDM superstar Zedd. By the numbers, his booking makes a ton of sense; he is, after all, an artist with multiple Billboard Hot 100 top 10 tracks to his name. But that doesn't change the fact that he's still a DJ, and he was always going to be a guy standing on that huge stage by himself; even The Chainsmokers had the benefit of having a guy in the group that sang. Just because booking Zedd seemed to make sense didn't change the fact that it was still a weird booking decision.

It was also the best decision the Rodeo made this year in terms of sheer entertainment.

Zedd and his crew pushed that giant star to its limits, doing things with the lighting and production that most probably didn't even realize were possible. Yes, there was much in the way of pyrotechnics, but this wasn't boom for the sake of boom; this show was well thought out and probably the most beautiful show to watch unfold that's ever graced Rodeo season.

And Zedd's track selection was killer. The set breezed by on a sea of his own hits (“The Middle”, “Clarity”), dance bops young and old (Whitney Houston's “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, Icona Pop's “I Love It”), EDM favorites (Swedish House Mafia's “Don't You Worry Child”, Martin Garrix's “Animals”) and even some classic rock gems (“Thunderstruck”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”). Zedd's ear for constructing a playlist has always been one of his strongest skills, but this set in particular was fantastic top to bottom.

Honestly, the Rodeo should probably at least experiment with booking an EDM festival headliner-sized act for the next two or three years. Book them Spring Break Tuesday or Wednesday before the kids head down to South Padre or wherever the party is going to be. And book artists that are going to draw EDM fans and not people who just go to the Rodeo; like, book Above & Beyond or Tiesto or make the Rodeo part of Deadmau5's eventual rehabilitation tour. Don't be afraid to get weird, y'all; Zedd proves the results can be genuinely outstanding.

Personal Bias: I rarely listen to EDM anymore, to the point that I didn't even know “Stay” and “The Middle” were songs Zedd did, but man did this show remind me about why I was briefly in love with it. This was easily in my top five Rodeo shows of all time.

The Crowd: 54,959, which does put it on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of capacity this year, but a number you can perhaps build on. I'm ready to spread the EDM at the Rodeo gospel.

Mutton Bustin' Update, Night 12: Perhaps the strongest group of riders this season so far, with at least three kids having excellent full rides. One kid wanted to be Darth Vader when he grows up. We like that kid's style.

Random Notebook Dump: Seeing what can be done with pyro during a Rodeo concert, why aren't a few more of these “too scared to move too far away from the microphone” singers amping up their performances with smoke and mirrors? They can make fireworks fall from the sky, you mean to tell me you don't have any songs that could benefit from that you statue?
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia