It’s an odd thing, seeing an artist like Avicii at a place like Radio City Music Hall, best known for its high-kicking Rockettes, opulent Art Deco façade, grand staircases and incredibly overpriced mixed cocktails … which is probably why, up until Wednesday night (September 26), it had never happened before.
Yes, the Swedish sensation made a bit of history with his show, becoming the first DJ to headline the iconic New York City venue. And while he’s made a fortune playing massive spaces all around the globe, you could tell that even he was moved by the moment … at least judging by a promo video for the show, which showed him wandering around the cavernous space, sitting in empty seats and just marveling at the sheer magnitude of it all.
Of course, that reverence all but disappeared the moment his giant space head/DJ booth/thingy appeared on the stage, as Avicii attacked the normally staid venue with a high-energy set, one that blasted off to the strains of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” segued into his smash “Fade Into Darkness,” and never really let up from there. Much to the delight of his tank-top clad fans (there truly were no biceps left uncovered on this night), there was no shortage of chest-caving bass or starry, wide-screen electro squeals, and his light show — which could charitably be described as “completely unreal” — had eyes popping, a constant wash of rapidly changing landscapes and brightly flashing beams.
There were, of course, a few subtle moments, like when he worked Robyn’s “Hang With Me” into the mix, or the sprinkling of Florence Welch’s vocals into his David Guetta-assisted “Sunshine,” but overall, this was Avicii to the max … like the whomp and pump of “Superlove,” his sky-scraping take on “Seek Bromance,” (which, yes, had many bros romancing … or at least grabbing their girlfriends’ butts) and, of course, his hit “Le7els,” so big and muscly that it threatened to burst out of Radio City itself.
Hey, if you’re going to make history, you might as well do it loudly. Radio City might not have been the most logical place to catch an Avicii show — dancing between the seats is sort of dangerous, after all — but you got the feeling neither he, nor his fans, seemed to mind. Is EDM a flash in the pan, or has it finally managed to establish itself as a genuine global phenomenon? You can debate that question all you want, but shows like this go a long way toward suggesting that the latter may be the case. Perched atop his giant head, Avicii peered down on all who came to see him and presumably basked in the moment … and, if you could see his face through all the lights and sonic din, one could logically assume he had a smile on his face. He’s earned the right to do so.