? Contact 2012 featuring Deadmau5 (Unhooked) with Nero, Alesso, Chris Lake, Lazy Rich and Rukes at BC Place, Wednesday, Dec. 26 from 6 p.m. to midnight. For more information visit contact-festival.com/#CONTACT2012.
BULGING eyes leer at the audience overtop the creature's manic smile.
A synthetic symphony plays, and at the centre of it stands the conductor and composer, the living, performing embodiment of Mickey Mouse as glimpsed through the ether of a nightmare.
Beats pound and lights pulse as hundreds of programming hours coalesce to bring 12,000 BC Place revelers into a state of rapture combining elements of an Aerosmith concert and an Apple product launch.
That's the image event-promoter Alvaro Prol has of the scheduled Boxing Day show headlined by the most famous deceased rodent in all of electronica, Deadmau5 (pronounced 'dead mouse').
The former Toronto, Ont. raver turned international recording star is set to be the first electronica performer to headline a concert at BC Place. For Prol, the concert is something he's been building toward in one way or another since he first set foot on the North Shore nearly 20 years ago.
Growing up amid the warm weather and barbecued beef of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Prol was as far from electronic music, both geographically and culturally, as he could get.
"When I lived in Argentina I was a big punk/heavy metal fan," he says. "Some of my favourite bands back then were the Sex Pistols and the Ramones."
Prol's parents were both successful in Argentina, with his father running a textiles factory that made hospital uniforms.
Their relative comfort began to erode as Prol approached his teenage years, and despite the family's affinity for the rich culture of their native land, they decided to move.
"It really is an amazing country. It also lacks in stability and being able to safely walk down the street because central South America's a little backwards in a lot of ways, unfortunately," Prol says.
The family sought greater opportunities in North Vancouver, and Prol enrolled at Carson Graham secondary.
However, he quickly found himself as the lone student rocking out to Metallica and Guns n' Roses.
"It was hard to adjust . . . especially in the teenage years," he says. "Going to North Van, to high school looking like a punk rocker, I didn't fit in very much."
As the millennium approached, Prol witnessed the explosion of electronic music and the birth of rave culture.
"In my young teenage years I started going out quite a bit, clubbing in Vancouver, and I got into dance music," he says.
Prol was a fixture on the club scene, haunting popular Vancouver spots like Graceland and Love Affair.
"I used to love going to Celebrity's then, even though it was mostly gay then. I still thought that a lot of the house scene came out of that environment at the time,"
At 19, Prol had a job working at Boys' Co., a trendy downtown clothing store that served as a launching pad for his next endeavour.
"I knew a lot of people, I knew a lot of girls. I was working at a pretty cool store at the time and we had a pretty good team of dudes that were working there. Everybody used to go out a lot and we knew a lot of people," he says.
One of the people Prol knew was a promoter at the Red Lounge.
"I really loved the Red Lounge, what it stood for at the time. It was the only small underground club that was actually highlighting all the different underground sounds from house to drum-and-bass," he says. "The Red Lounge was the hub."
Because of his high profile among club-goers, Prol got a chance to promote his first party at the Red Lounge.
"Back then there was no Facebook, there was no Twitter, there was nothing. You had to go out and actually invite people personally," he says.
It ended up as a small party in a small room, but Prol had found his vocation. "I've never looked back, and I've been a promoter ever since," he says.
Now 35, Prol has spent 15 years bringing the biggest names in electronic music to Vancouver under the umbrella of his promotion company, Blueprint.
Initially a one-man company, Prol estimates Blueprint now promotes about 200 shows a year.
While the company has hosted big shows, the Contact Winter Music Festival will likely be their biggest.
"Since the renovation of BC Place obviously it's been a big target for us to go to that venue," he says. "When this place opened we're like, 'Oh man, we've gotta do an event there.' I think every promoter in Vancouver wants to do one.'"
The show is scheduled to feature DJs and producers like Lazy Rich, Chris Lake, Alesso, Nero, and Unhooked. But for the headliner, Prol went after the computer programmer/musician who has likely ignited more glow sticks than anyone in the last few years.
"We really thought it was important to do it with a Canadian act like Deadmau5, it's kind of corny but really that's a lot of our motivation," Prol says.
The promoter and music act have worked together since 2007. "The first time we hired him was for a club show at Celebrity's and we sold 100 tickets in advance," Prol recalls.
Now, the company is hoping to sell upwards of 12,000 tickets for the Boxing Day event.
"I would like to have people wanting more, I would like for people on the 27th of December go, 'What's happening next year?'" Prol says.
The choice of Dec. 26 was an effort to begin a new tradition, according to Prol.
"We chose Boxing Day for a strategic reason as well - New Year's Eve, Halloween - they're very competitive days, there's a lot of big events happening all over North America and we thought Boxing Day was a good open day," he says. "We really targeted this day to try to build something that Vancouver people can call their own."
While Prol has found Vancouver to be conservative when it comes to green-lighting big electronica shows, he believes that mindset is changing.
"I think the city's waking up to the fact that there's Paul McCartney fun, and then there's also Deadmau5 fun. There's different kinds of fun for different people and we live in a very diverse city. We've got to offer it all to be a real international destination."
The show will be brief, according to Prol.
"Unfortunately, it's only six hours," he says. While the show may serve as an electronica introduction for some music lovers, Prol believes the stadium will likely fill up with devoted fans who have been waiting for a show like this one for years.
"A lot of reporters that haven't reported too much on dance music think it's something new here but I believe (Vancouver's) been a strong market for dance music for a very, very long time," he says.
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