Swedish House Mafia (SHM) who formed in 2008 quickly became a familiar name to all electronic music fans. The Swedish producer and DJ super group (Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell) rose to fame with their mainstream progressive hits, beginning with Leave the World Behind, a production with Laidback Luke. Shortly after, they became known worldwide with their single One hitting billboard charts globally. Presently, you would be hard pressed to attend any electronic festival without hearing their songs played countless times throughout the day.
Although the popularity of their songs are still prevalent only 6 years into the group’s career, each member has broken out to produce their own sounds and start their own record label. With only one album and many singles, they decided to launch the One Last Tour campaign, announced in the Fall of 2012. In October 2012 they released their second and last album “Until Now”.
Buzz around the Swedish House Mafia show in Toronto was soon a hot topic that could be overheard in conversations city-wide. Tickets for the Saturday show immediately sold out, catching the label’s interest to launch another show on the Friday night. Anticipating only one show, I was sure to be at my computer the precise moment tickets became available to the public.
After a seemingly endless wait, months soon turned into days and there I was the morning of Saturday February 23rd, reading the reviews and comments from those who attended on the Friday night. Having attended the Deadmau5 show at the Rogers Centre last year I had expected the Swedish House Mafia show to be similar; to my disappointment I was wrong. Swedish House Mafia at the Rogers Centre was not a DJ set, it was a concert. Although being just that, a concert, it was very well put together with an incredible display of lights, fireworks, confetti and balloons.
The night began with Otto Knows a fellow Swede signed to Ingrosso’s label, Refune. Otto Knows is known for his soft and catchy synths seen in his most popular single to date, Million Voices. As the crowd of patron’s slowly gathered on the open floor around the stage, the energy in the room was filled with a collective anxiety leaving a visibly uncomfortable tension. It was obvious there were many people in attendance who were unfamiliar with the electronic music scene. The crowd was rowdy, loud and obnoxious. Otto Knows played mostly big room progressive house hits, known to even the slightest electronic fan including Zedd’s Spectrum and Dirty South’s Walking Alone. These big festival hits encouraged the crowd to dance and created a sense of excitement as the room filled. Just before the end of his set he played Million Voices, a catchy festival anthem filled with repetitive soft melodic voice samples. The song was obviously known by most people in the room as he did not turn down the sound but the crowd still sung loud, their voices of echoing almost louder than the speakers.
To everyone’s surprise there was a long silence and wait between Otto Knows and SHM. Remembering back to Deadmau5 at the Rogers Centre, there was no silence between any of the acts before him. No one knew what to do during this silence, but no one was willing to move as the crowd grew denser and people shoved together.
When the music finally started at 10:00pm, projected images of three circles, the outline of North America and the three Swedes themselves flashed on a white screen which suddenly dropped to reveal a horizontal row of large LED screens. The faint sound of Greyhound grew louder and deeper becoming noticeably louder than when Otto Knows had played. The sounds faded into the words “We Come” “We Rave” “We Love” the present tense of the One Last Tour slogan. These words changed again to a mash up of Greyhound and Raise Your Hands the crowd jumped and shoved harder than before as if the higher they jumped the more likely SHM would see them in the sea of people.
The LED screens behind the DJ’s shone so intensely, only the outline of SHM was visible practically the entire show. The light show progressed quickly from bright blue and purple swirls followed by fast moving spotlights which scanned the gregarious crowd. This was followed by crazy rainbow lasers, pulsing racing strobes and mind blowing fireworks culminating with explosive pyrotechnics. Swedish House Mafia went all out with the production of this concert; there was always a new visual surprise that came with virtually every new song keeping the crowd on their toes and constantly dancing throughout.
Although they played a few newly produced tracks such as Like Mike’s Wakanda, the Swede’s kept mostly to their own tracks and mashups produced over the years both collectively and individually. My personal highlights of the concert were Antidote, Every Tear Drop is a Waterfall and In the Air, tracks that all had a significant meaning to me. During Antidote the screens would flash red and yellow and each time the chorus played fire blazed up from the stage lighting up the room and driving the crowd mad. Their remix of Every Tear Drop is a Waterfall was a nice break to the wild jumping and raving, those who knew the words sang along and swayed from side to side.
After their Coldplay remix the stage was lit up with the Canadian flag, each SHM member also raised and waved a flag each as fireworks erupted from the stage and Don’t You Worry Child blasted from the speakers. I had never needed earplugs more as the crowd screamed the lyrics with alarming intensity. The Swedes’ stopped the music a few times throughout the show to thank the production team and their Toronto fans, and to reminisce about their experiences over the years of touring together.
As familiar SHM tracks played such as; Miami to Ibiza, Calling, and One it brought back so many memories of years passed, flashbacks of festivals and shows filled my mind. By the end of the concert I was almost sad as this bittersweet experience was soon to come to an end and I realized this was the first and only time I would ever see SHM live.
The last song, Save the World, was slowed down in the most beautiful way I had ever heard, the acapella chorus being a truly memorable highlight. This moment almost brought me to tears as groups of friends huddled together, sung, smiled and laughed. The aggressive crowd that had first entered the stadium had been rendered through the sound of SHM into one group of loving happy fans all singing in unison waving their hands from side to side as balloons fell and covered the crowd. Save the World was soon mashed with Reload for one more moment of hard dancing as lights fell like rain from the stage with a few lyrics of Don’t You Worry Child transformed into Save the World. The music quickly faded and the LED screens slowly shut, leaving only three white dots of lights and the crowd surrounded in silence and awe, knowing they had seen something they would never witness again.
Leanne Feeney – EDM TOR