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Avicii and Madonna at Ultra 2012: bringing the party, without the artistry

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Writing about Avicii as a DJ is impossible without also writing about Avicii as a producer. This isn’t the case for every EDM artist – Kaskade, for example, spins with a considerably harder sound than his own productions might indicate, and creates bootlegs galore. For Avicii, however, a DJ gig isn’t an opportunity to showcase his mixing skills, but rather a chance to see a crowd react to his hard work in the studio.

We don’t think it’s unfair to say that Avicii the DJ relies a little too much on Avicii the producer – playing his own hits back-to-back, interspersed with a few bootlegs crafted by other artists, just wasn’t sufficient for an Ultra headlining gig. Don’t get us wrong: we had a great time in the massive crowd during his headlining set, and even ran over to Bayfront Park from Masquerade Motel to catch it. We just think that, given how much Avicii tours and DJs, we can reasonably expect more than ten straight minutes of “Levels.” Read on for our full take on the set, as well as a certain special appearance.

We’d been hearing whispers all day Saturday about a “special guest” joining Avicii onstage and, as the day went on, Madonna’s name began to appear in texts and tweets. We were excited, to say the least; maybe she would perform one of the tracks from her new album MDNA, featuring an Avicii-produced beat? Sadly, that’s not exactly what went down. After a short video played on the Main Stage screens, touting the success of EDM in the U.S. thanks to artists like Madonna, the diva herself took the stage. She did little more than dance behind the booth and ask the crowd if they had seen Molly, a move that’s now stirring controversy (and pissing off Deadmau5).

Avicii began his set with his new remix of the Madonna single “Girl Gone Wild,” but from there he set out on a well-worn journey through his discography. He dropped the a cappella of Florence and the Machine’s “Spectrum,” which made his use of “You’ve Got The Love” just a few minutes later feel a bit redundant. To his credit, however, he revitalized “My Feelings For You” by integrating Albin Meyers’ “Hells Bells.” And, naturally, “Nicktim,” “Sunshine,” and a slew of unreleased but easily recognizable Avicii tracks made it into the mix.

There’s no denying the effect of Avicii’s music on people. Something about those euphoric piano notes and soaring synths just make you want to move. But his closing track – a bootleg of “Levels” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” – showed us what we’re missing: the Avicii who DJs with his own point of view and the ingenuity he brings to producing.

Photo Credit: Seth Browarnik/Worldredeye.com

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