The last time we checked in to the Masquerade Motel, we were inside Madison Square Garden — one of the most famous venues in the world. At that time, we told you that Swedish House Mafia was the biggest dance music act in the world. After attending the latest Masquerade Motel — this time at Grand Central Park in Miami — we can confirm that is still the case. While it wasn’t quite the gigantic event planned for Haulover Park, the usual cast of characters (NO_ID, AN21, Alesso, and Calvin Harris) was out to support the juggernaut that is Swedish House Mafia, and it all came together in one awesome event that only SHM could pull off.
We arrived just in time to catch the end of AN21’s set, but he still managed to keep us in the lurch as we eagerly await his and Max Vangeli’s first studio album. (“It’s coming soon!” he promised us.) While we weren’t there for the entire set, what we heard, we liked. We caught the end of “Whisper” — which has been floating around in various forms since AN21 and Max’s Essential Mix — and it only got us more amped for the album. We also got to hear a chilled-out remix of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” which was a welcomed reprieve for the attendees who showed up early enough to catch his set. Bottom line: keep an eye on these guys. Everyone is saying they’re the next generation of SHM, and besides sharing a blood line with Steve Angello (AN21 is his brother), there’s a lot of promise for big things out of this duo.
We’ve seen Alesso many times before, and his set here at Masquerade Motel Miami was nothing less than we would’ve expected by the young up-and-coming Swede. Highlights of the set included Porter Robinson’s “Unison,” and his own “Raise Your Head,” before an unknown remix of Coldplay’s “Clocks.” He also played Avicii and Nicky Romero’s “Nicktim” — which is still awesome and needs to be released, like, now — but it was a remix we couldn’t ID of “Wild One Two” that had us really impressed.
He of course played “Pressure” (arguably the song that put him on the scene), but he certainly saved the best for last. Alesso debuted the vocal mix of his latest track, “Years,” which had a lovely vocal that feels like it could go over well not only at a pregame or frat party, but even with your parents. The last time we had a track with those qualities, it came from Avicii. Just saying.
What can we say about Calvin Harris that hasn’t already been said? He’s a living legend when it comes to pop-esque house music, and not only can he DJ with the best of ’em, he can sing too! He opened with the classic track “I’m Not Alone,” but updated it and made it harder with the addition of Hardwell’s “Spaceman.”
A small sound snafu cut off the former track for about thirty seconds, but he quickly turned back to a string of his original productions: “Bounce,” “Awooga,” and “We Found Love” were all given airplay and were well-received by the crowd. Just like Dirty South at Ultra, he dropped the “Bullet” “Promises” “I Love U So” bootleg which we are still obsessed with.
Swedish House Mafia
After Calvin wrapped things up, a white curtain was erected while the quick changeover took place before Swedish House Mafia got into position for their headlining set on night two. Soon enough we were hearing the familiar “Together” intro sequence, and the curtain dropped perfectly in sync with their latest track, “Greyhound.” It was a predictable opening — and the one they used at Madison Square Garden in December — but we honestly wouldn’t have expected them to kick off the night with anything other than their latest and greatest track.
Grand Central Park proved to be a pretty decent venue, and there was ample space to get around and multiple locations to watch from. The stage production was virtually identical to Madison Square Garden’s, with the semi-circular LED booth flanked by many, many more LED screens. The production was certainly impressive, but we would’ve liked to see them push the envelope a little more.
They quickly got down to business, dropping a bunch of familiar tracks that we expected to hear, but they also made a variety of new bootlegs and edits that brought something unique and different to the set. One we were treated to relatively early in was Michael Calfan’s “Resurrection” with Coldplay’s “Paradise,” which was followed up by Deniz Koyu’s “Hertz” and Third Party vs Cicada’s “Feel.” If you haven’t heard any of these tracks in the festival environment yet, we’re sorry — it’s way better than any pair of headphones or speakers. Nari & Milani’s forthcoming (Editor’s note: still?!) “Atom” set the tone much darker, and Qulinez’ “Troll,” and “Antidote” kept the hard bass coming.
The next string of tracked started off with a huge bootleg of “Miami 2 Ibiza” with the “Walking Alone” acapella, which was followed up with Arty and Matisse & Sadko’s “Trio.” They also played the Steve Angello / AN21 / Max Vangeli remix of “The Island,” — one of our throwback tracks we had a feeling would show up somewhere during WMC.
Around 10PM the guys got on the microphone to address the crowd, and said that Miami was “kind of like home” for them, given that it’s the place where they played their first gig as “Swedish House Mafia.” It was appropriate that they played the “Coming Home” with “Aerodynamic” and “Quasar” bootleg afterwards, and then the incredible Third Party remix of “Otherside.” Their own remix of “Every Teardrop” was also played, as was Tommy Trash’s “The End.”
The final sequence of the set featured the lovable Axwell on the mic, who was excited about the two day festivities. “The first day you’re like ‘wow,’ and then the second day, you get to observe the other things,” he told the crowd. SHM finished up the set with a trifecta of new bootlegs, which started off with “One” and the “Somebody That I Used To Know” acapella. (As if the track needed any more validation…) Next was a three-way bootleg of “Save The World” with “Heart Is King,” which was then given the “Punk” treatment to change things up even more. As with most SHM sets they ended with “Leave The World Behind,” but infused it with Porter Robinson’s “Unison.” It was a fresh take on an established favorite, and it worked flawlessly.
Overall, like most SHM events, Masquerade Motel Miami was a big success. Despite getting off to a late start, the guys managed to pull off a huge event with major production value in a very short period of time, and they did it with their usual finesse and style. We can’t beat around the bush and pretend like it wasn’t similar to Madison Square Garden in terms of the setup or the set list (for the mostpart), but being outdoors and not being confined to an enclosed arena brought a very different feel to the event. We’re not sure what SHM has in store for next year — but something tells us they’ll go even bigger. After all, this is Swedish House Mafia we’re talking about.