Avicii in Malmö, Sweden, August 27, 2011: The Backstage Experience
Sometimes you can judge an event based on the line that forms even before the doors open. First, are there actually people waiting outside? How far down the street does the line stretch? How loud are those people waiting in the queue? Saturday, August 27th at Slagthuset in Malmö, Sweden, we could follow the the parade of loud clubbers for blocks — up the cobblestone streets all the way from the train station straight into to the venue. But the journey to Avicii didn’t start there, for us at least. Read along for a special look at an Avicii set in which we weren’t just spectators, but included in the action behind the scenes.
The train to Malmö was filled with Swedish students singing and drinking shoulder to shoulder. The eve before courses began, Saturday, would be the biggest night out until exams finish. What better way to end summer right than with Stockholm’s own, Avicii?
Avicii was billed to play at Slagthuset — a well known club in the night life scene. Malmö is perfectly centered between Lund, a typical University city with 46,000 students, and Copenhagen in Denmark. An international destination for DJs and party hounds, Slagthuset (Swedish for “butcher’s house”), is an old butcher shop turned into a night club that holds several thousand people on a big night.
Doors for the show opened at 11:00PM. The line spilled down the alley, around the corner and down the street by the time we arrived at 11:30. Everybody was so excited for a great night out, they ignored the rain and stood in line for upwards of 45 minutes.
When an internationally famous Swedish DJ comes to the United States, it’s a big deal. When an internationally famous Swedish DJ plays in Sweden, it’s a huge deal. Avicii was playing in his home country for a mass of Swedish fans, so everything pointed to an amazing evening. Avicii was supported by Swedish talent from two other young up-and-comers, Masih Ghaeny and Oliver Ingrosso.
Masih Ghaeny opened the night with a string of mixes ranging from big room house to funky tech house. Our favorite track from his set was the DJ PP Edit of “Drunken Russian” by Gabriel Rocha. This energetic remix was perfect for putting the crowd in the right mood without hitting too hard, too early.
Gabriel Rocha – Drunken Russian (DJ PP Edit)
Another huge track in Ghaeny’s set was Tristan Garner & Gregori Klosman’s “Bounce.” His energy was great, and the crowd couldn’t have shown more love for an opening act.
Tristan Garner & Gregori Klosman – Bounce (Original Mix)
As the night progressed, the backstage area started to fill up. Crews of nicely dressed Swedes were walking back and forth between the adjacent pre-party room and the stage. Inside the candlelit VIP room were tables of Absolut Vodka and white couches. It was here that we met up with part of the Ingrosso family.
Luciano Ingrosso (pictured at right), and nephew, Oliver Ingrosso (pictured at left) showed up with a posse of tall beautiful Swedish blondes, and what appeared to be record executives. Luciano Ingrosso, Sebastian Ingrosso’s uncle, runs “Joia,” Sweden’s largest house music record label. Their family resemblance made it apparent who the Ingrossos were in the group.
Together with Otto Knows, Oliver Ingrosso and Avicii have produced a huge club anthem called “Gino.” We asked Ingrosso about his forthcoming releases and what he had up his sleeves just before he went on.“I am going to play a pretty clubby melodic set. I’m a warm up DJ for Avicii tonight.”
Tim Berg, Oliver Ingrosso & Otto Knows – Gino (Original Mix)
Ingrosso also spilled more info on upcoming releases that he has in the pipeline with Avicii. “We’ve [Avicii] and I worked together before. We have a track called ‘iTrack’ and an unreleased track called ‘Skype’. It’s just the working title. An old track but unreleased.”
Tim Berg, Oliver Ingrosso & Otto Knows – I-Track (Radio Mix)
We bid adieu to Ingrosso as he threw off his jacket and took to the decks like a young Eric Prydz. His enormous build ups never let the bass stray away from a steady pounding. By the crowd’s reaction to his selections it was obvious he was killing it — so much so that 15 minutes into his set, the front barricade was compromised. There was no longer a gap between the front of the stage and the crowd, that wall had been pushed down.
Ingrosso continued to play the crowd like a symphony with his huge melodies. Our highlights from his set include Arno Cost’s “Lise.”
Arno Cost – Lise (Original Mix)
Ingrosso played a powerful hour-long set full of progressive tunes to stretch the tension until Avicii walked on stage. It was about time to give the crowd exactly what they wanted.
Backstage just minutes before Avicii’s show time, we spoke with Avicii and his manager, Ash Pournouri. Pournouri shed some light on the highly auspicious theme behind Avicii’s shows.
We asked about LE7ELS, a concept that has been popping up with Avicii’s name over the past few months with Avicii’s hit podcast. “Levels is going to be a new concept and I’m planning some unique shows.”
Pournouri elaborated to tell us that LE7ELS would be the name of Avicii’s tour through the United States this September. (Make sure to check tour dates on Avicii’s Facebook for more details.) After last year’s huge marketing campaign during Miami Music Week, with Avicii’s face all over chartered busses, he assured us that next year will be even bigger.
Avicii’s success in a fast paced music industry is due in part, to the innovative thinking of a good management team. “I’m Avicii’s manager. I want Avicii to only focus on the music and nothing else,” Ash told us.
Additionally, Marcus Lindgren (pictured above with Avicii), director at AtNight Productions, gave us exclusive insight to a new Avicii project in the works. Lindgren is currently filming and directing a documentary about the development and success of Avicii on tour and in the studio. The film will feature footage over the course of one year. “I don’t really know what the documentary is going to be about until it is finished,” said Lindgren. Expect to see footage from Miami Music Week 2011, Avicii’s performance at Slagthuset in Malmö, and other locations around the globe. Release date has yet to be announced.
A stagehand dressed in all black suddenly appeared and whispered “tre minuter” (“three minutes” in Swedish) and we knew it was time. We walked with Avicii, Pournouri, and Lindgren on stage and witnessed first-hand the crowd erupting with anticipation for the main act. Did we mention that when Swedes play in Sweden, it’s a huge deal?
Without hesitation, Avicii plugged his USB sticks into the CDJ-2000s and began his set with a massive Coldplay mashup and moved into “Let Me Show You Love,” another huge crowd pleaser.
Philter – Revolver (Avicii Remix) w/ Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall (Acapella)
“Don’t Give Up On Us (Enough Is Enough)” — also known as a “Let Me Show You Love” (Ash & Avicii’s Hype Machine Mix) — set the crowd off. Avicii was opening his set and sharing the love all the way to the back of the venue.
Avicii ft. Yolanda Selini - Don’t Give Up On Us (Enough Is Enough)
The first half of Avicii’s set was a mega mix of of Avicii hits satisfying the crowd’s craving for that big room sound. Avicii continued to elevate the crowds excitement with an “Ultra Bootleg” of Skylar Grey’s “Coming Home (Dirty South Club Mix)” vs. Green Velvet’s “Flash,” that we’ve seen him drop multiple times before.
The mix continued straight into Tim Mason’s “The Moment.” This part of the set climaxed with Swedish House Mafia’s “Save the World.” True to his nature, Avicii played the track like a Swede, pulling the crowd closer to the music with every drop. Close your eyes, and you could have sworn it was the Mafia up there.
Then, the huge synths from “Sweet Dreams (Avicii Swede Dreams Mix)” came through the mix, out of the speakers, and into the fire spitting out of the front of the stage.
Avicii - Sweet Dreams (Avicii Swede Dreams Mix)
The bass was so strong that a bottle of champagne fell off the table and exploded all over the booth. Avicii didn’t even notice the alcohol soaked stage-party and brought the vocals of “Levels” into the mix — the theme song of the night. “Oh, sometimes I get a good feeling…”
Avicii – Levels (Original Mix)
The vocal medley continued with “Fade Into Darkness” and Avicii’s remix of Armin Van Buuren’s “Drowning,” but peaked with a bootleg of Axwell’s “I Found You” with “Bromance.”
Tim Berg – Bromance (Avicii Arena Mix) w/ Axwell feat. Max C – I Found U (Acappella) w/ Tim Berg feat. Amanda Wilson – Seek Bromance (Avicii Vocal Remix)
Hour two brought heavier material. Skitzofrenix and Jeff Doubleu’s “Rushin’” was the perfect transition from light to dark. The next few tracks went deeper and deeper. Darker and darker.
Skitzofrenix, Jeff Doubleu - Rushin’ (Original Mix)
Two hours gives a DJ time to develop their sound and the freedom to explore their genre. Changing from one style to the next, Avicii showed us a side to him the mainstream doesn’t ever see. The bangers did not stop.
Hard Rock Sofa, St. Brothers – “Blow Up” (Thomas Gold vs. Axwell Remix)
Henrik B – Acid Rocker (David Tort Remix) w/ Justice vs. Simian – We Are Your Friends (Acappella)
At this point, the crowd had pushed the barricade a good two meters forward from its starting location and the girls dancing backstage had worked their way to the front. Avicii’s monitor speakers were so loud that Pournouri jokingly threw a box at him to get him to turn it down.
A quick time travel back to the 70‘s to catch a huge talk box synthesized hook from the Temptation’s “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Throw it together with some electro synthesizers from 2012, and you’ve got this unreleased track. It is rumored to be called “Papa,” and we heard it debuted first at EDC Vegas.
Avicii & Ash -Papa (rumored title)
What makes unreleased material so good? Is it the anticipation for release? Is it the exclusivity? Or is it that the newest stuff is always the best? Whatever it is, Avicii has a good track record for putting out better and better productions.
Dancing Astronaut’s personal favorite track of the night was the uplifting remix of Otto Knows vs. Calvin Harris “Via vs. Flashback,” that was first played on his Le7els podcast. An unreleased track with no set release date… what a perfect closer.
Otto Knows vs. Calvin Harris – Via vs. Flashback (Avicii Bootleg)
As the night came to a close, the fans were not ready to leave and began a chant for “ONE MORE SONG” in English. Avicii was hesitant to give them what they wanted. The stage manager was waving off the sound booth, and the security had begun to kick people off the stage. The security, dressed in neon green jackets, had to protect Avicii from the huge backstage party that had engulfed the front of the stage.
After a minute of silence, Avicii cued up an encore track. It was The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” We believe this was the remix by Jacques Lucont’s “Thin White Duke”.
The Killers - Mr. Brightside (Jacques Lucont’s Thin White Duke Remix) [unconfirmed remix]
The remaining stage party moved itself away, where Avicii was met with cheers and smiles. Sweaty and exhausted, Tim stepped down from the stage modestly and outside for some fresh air. We were able to get a quick “Great job tonight Tim!” in before he disappeared with his crew to the adjacent room. The response we got was a bright smile and handshake with a big ”Thanks!”
Pictured above: Avicii signing off (left) and the empty hall 20 minutes later (right).
View all the photos here!
You can see more of Skyler’s work on his Flickr.