Words & Images by: Annelise Poda
Avicii :: 12.29.11 :: The Warfield :: San Francisco, CA
After arriving at the Warfield in San Francisco for this past week’s Avicii concert, I was amazed to see a giant line of people stretching all the way around the distant corner waiting to get in. This sight was astonishing for a couple reasons. First, I’ve never seen a line that long for anything at The Warfield, especially after the venue had already been open for an hour since the early door time of 7pm. Second, this was only the first show of the night, as Avicii (AKA Tim Bergling) had sold out the 2,000+ capacity venue as soon as tickets were available, prompting an additional performance to be scheduled in the same night. People definitely took advantage of this opportunity to catch an earlier show and came out in full force for a night of energizing house music from the up and coming Swedish DJ.
|Avicii crowd by Annelise Poda|
The crowd for this concert was very pumped up before they even got in the building, running back and forth between friends in line and sneaking last minute drinks on the sidewalk. This above average amount of frenzied activity on Market Street attracted lots of other people from the neighborhood to come out and enjoy the party atmosphere. This combination didn’t always work out perfectly, and it was funny watching some adequately inebriated girls clad only in lingerie interrupting sidewalk chess games from staple occupants of the 5th and Market Street area. Waiting in this massive line was really entertaining by itself, but once everyone was finally inside, the energy quadrupled. If the fans at this earlier 7 pm show were worked up, then the second sold out performance must have been explosive because people were raging hard all the way from the pit in front of the stage to the upper rafters of the balcony, illuminated by a vibrant and colorful light show that pulsed in time with the music.
Avicii’s music seems to have been made for big groups of jumping people. He expertly built up the multilayered bass and melody lines for every song with giant drops that hit the dancing crowd like a tidal wave. People moved fluidly during mellower parts of songs but then burst into giant leaps with outstretched arms at these peaking moments. Friends would group together with arms around each other’s shoulders and all jump up together, sharing a moment of camaraderie through the Swedish house beats. These were the moments that people came to the show for, and Avicii definitely delivered. Clad in his trademark beanie, Avicii played through his popular singles, including “Fade into Darkness”, (formerly known as instrumental song “Penguin”) where people dramatically sang along to the newly added chorus. The audience also went crazy for “Seek Bromance”, the song that originally got Avicii noticed in the electronic music scene at the young age of 18. His remix of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”, appropriately dubbed the “Swede Dreams Remix”, was also a hit, along with his remix of Swedish House Mafia’s “Save the World”.
|Avicii by Annelise Poda|
Without a doubt, the most energetic times of the night were when Avicii played his infectiously catchy song “Levels,” which samples an emotional gospel vocal from Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”. I say ‘times of the night’ because he played at least two different remixes of this song, and possibly a third before I had started counting. People go absolutely wild for the hook in this mix, a super-clean synth melody, and every time it drops you can hear the whole room singing the notes as they jump or pump their fists as the heavy bass beat comes in. It was awesome seeing such enthusiasm combust inside the whole venue the first time it happened, and even the second, but this song somehow kept coming back in different forms, and I thought it was pushing it to be playing your biggest hit more than once in a night. One version that Avicii dropped was Skrillex’s remix that gave “Levels” a new grimy dubstep sound, which was a cool switch up from a night of all house music, but that same hook was still the most apparent and it was a weak play to get the crowd excited.
All in all, this show had great energy, and the crowd was definitely hyped up to maximal levels for this concert. I personally think that Avicii is a very talented young DJ that has started off his career very strong, but perhaps he should take some time off from touring and come up with some more original material, or at least more remixes of other people’s songs, before his next tour. He has proven that he can put together great songs that incorporate catchy samples and vocal parts that really resonate with his fans, and he should continue to do more of that so he won’t have to essentially play the same song more than once at a show. 2012 is a new year, and it will hopefully bring new beats and even more concerts with around-the-block lines for Avicii. Until then, seeing this DJ anywhere is definitely a hot ticket no matter what for any house music fan, and being in such an animated atmosphere of thousands of psyched up dancing people is a pretty great feeling.
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