YouTube DOOM's signature "Gladiator" inspired face plate gets replaced with a…
- Posted on Dec 17th 2011 12:15PM by Kia Makarechi
We were first impressed by A-Trak's ambitious set. (Waka's 'No Hands' over Avicii's 'Levels'?) Then a lady one row beneath us told us she was 40 and started harassing us with iPhone photos of brain x-rays and stories of meeting her "soul sisters" at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Eventually we persuaded her to listen to the music, and things got underway nicely.
In an email to Spinner from rehearsals at MSG, A-Trak (legal name: Alain Macklovitch) said it was "a historic event" to have DJs headlining the legendary New York City arena.
"I've played at the Garden before when I used to DJ for Kanye, but playing my own set is way different," wrote the 28-year-old Canada-Brooklyn label boss and former DMC world champ. "Swedish House Mafia are good friends of mine, and I'm thrilled that they invited me on board. I'm in rehearsals right now preparing my stage show, programming lights and fine-tuning my set. I'm excited!"
A-Trak's set was a familiar blend of what he would probably call "sexy disco house" and technical elements that are unique on the festival and dance-party circuit. He's probably the only DJ many house music fans see who spins vinyl, and he's even more likely to be the only one who beat-juggles in the middle of a dance set.
Knowing that the boys from Sweden would be playing standard house fare made listening to A-Trak's work even more exciting, as though it was a dose of cultural nuance before a main dish of musical comfort food (with lots of lasers! and LED panels! and fog!).
It was then time for the three men who sold out one of America's premiere venues in a handful of minutes. Forgive us for sounding like we're 13-year-olds at our first rave, but there's something stunning about 20,000 people bouncing to the music three men of average stature blast out of a few plastic CDJ's.
It's a lie that electronic dance music isn't more tied to drug use than other genres (anyone walking through a crowd at a house show knows this), but one struggles to think of another genre that instills the same level of glee in even its soberest fans. One only has to look at ticket sales to know this -- these DJ's can play to as many people as they want, in any country on the globe.
Their tracklist was standard SHM fare. Anyone who has seen Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso or Steve Angello before knows that they are gregarious DJs, offering their heartfelt gratitude and bringing out unreleased mixes that house music fans now recognize immediately.
The combination of Axwell's 'Heart is King,' R.E.M.'s 'Losing My Religion' acapella and Arty's remix of Ferry Corsten's 'Punk' is a strong contender for the best display of Swedish House Mafia's ability to create crowd-pleasing hybrids out of mega hits (and running through bangers like remixes of James Blunt's 'Dangerous' and and Nero's 'Promises' shortly thereafter certainly didn't hurt). Other standout moments included back-to-back Coldplay remixes ('Fix You' and 'Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall'), as the band edges closer and closer to toppling Adele for the Most Often and Quite Pleasing Mainstream EDM Muse.
The chief complaint about the evening is that there are no surprises at a Swedish House Mafia show. Nearly every DJ I've seen this year, at shows from Electric Zoo to Pacha, Governor's Island to Webster Hall, has incorporated the art of misdirection into their sets. Dirty South will swap in the bass drop of another song for his anthemic 'Coming Home.' Half of Laidback Luke's remixes incorporate the same trick, and the ability to mix things up and avoid the "wait, wait, jump, wait, wait, jump" cadence of most house songs makes a smaller act like SAVOY even more appealing than the biggest names in the business.
At MSG last night, there were no such surprises. And though the live performances of Tinie Tempah and John Martin for 'Miami 2 Ibiza' and 'Save the World' injected a much-needed spark into the set, we'd have been fools to not see that coming, too. (Guys, it's MSG!)
In a way, playing through songs relatively straight helps your fans sing along. Some fans might even find it a more respectful and less look-at-me-push-buttons way of going about a party, but it doesn't make for a very engaging few hours. It would be a lie to say there were not lulls in the set, but the final hour or so made up for it, with the boys dropping the majority of their hits and classics like Nadia Ali's 'Pressure.'
Other highlights of the night included the trio's decision to not play 'Save the World' last and run through the likes of 'Sweet Disposition,' 'Leave the World Behind' and 'Show Me Love' for the set's end. We're not sure how much breaking Madison Square Garden's curfew cost the guys, but it's safe to say that the 1AM end time was greatly appreciated.
At the very least, last night gave us one experience we never expected: hearing men argue about the benefits of Ableton Live in the bathroom of Madison Square Garden.
Here's the entire set, ripped from the live Fuse/YouTube broadcast. Enjoy it while we go back to really hoping that woman at the show really isn't a brain surgeon.
SHM - Madison Square Garden - 16.12.2011 by madisonsquaregarden