18 Nov 2011: D.C. Armory Washington, D.C.
Avicii, who’s real name is Tim Begling, was born in 1989 in Stockholm Sweden. He, like many others, is one of the world class DJ’s / Producers responsible for constructing the Nintendo-esque soundtrack of this decade. As a matter of fact, Avicii’s rise to the top began with his remix of a Commodore 64 video game in 2008. At just 22, he’s played almost every major club and electronic music festival from New York to Ibiza. Avicii has become a household name in neon-night circles and his platinum-single status has placed him in the ranks of techno royalty. All of which makes his appearance at Washington D.C.’s cavernous and sterile Armory something of an anomaly.
Minutes before Avicii’s 11 p.m. time slot, tickets with a face value of $50 were being flipped anywhere from $100-$175 outside the venue. The manic fervor outside the 10,000 capacity Armory made it seem as if the promoter had oversold the show and gaggles of girls in legwarmers swarmed from entry to entry while their cigarette chugging male counterparts pushed and shoved their way through security. The mayhem was both unexpected and exciting, but begged the question… all of this, for a DJ?
Upon entering the Armory there proved to be absolutely no reason for the bottle-necked insanity outside. The venue, which has the charm of an airplane hangar, was only three quarters full and felt a bit like a high school dance. Part of the adolescent vibe to the 18+ event can be attributed to the heavy population of under-aged teenagers who, for the most part, appeared to be smashed on either booze or ecstasy and only traveled in ravenous stumbling packs.
Avicii fairly punctual appearance on stage was met with raucous applause. His slicked back blonde hair and casual wardrobe could easily peg him as one of the young villains from the original Die Hard. He wasted little time absorbing the crowd before adjusting a few knobs and dropping the first womp of his three-hour long set.
As far as what was played, no one but Avicii could tell you. In order to create the sweat fest, Avicii culled a smash and mash of his best work with mixture of his influences from Swedish House Mafia to Laidback Luke and Eric Prydz (among others). His most popular songs and remixes (including “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”; a remix of his own remix of “Blessed”; and an anthemic rendition of “Levels”) served as bookmarks in an overwhelming electronic whirlwind. Unfortunately, the set never seemed to push the crowd into the fabled frenzy his reputation has amassed.
Perhaps it was the oversized venue or the lack of differentiation in his timbre, but there was definitely something missing. Avicii’s reverb heavy signature carried in such a way that the the party always seemed to be coming from the end of a long hallway, even from the front of the stage. While there were exceptional moments of intensity, the laser and fog production aspect of his show was better suited for a small club. In a time where big acts such as Pretty Lights, Daft Punk and Magnetic Man are pushing live LCD visuals into mind blowing territories, Avicii seems to be stuck in the high-end Bar-mitzvah wheelhouse.
When the show let out at 2 a.m., there was no doubt that Avicii can deliver a shirt-soaking set. Live music tends to be exactly what you want it to be, the only question is the quality of your experience. Tim Begling may be electronica’s youngest talent—but this particular performance may prove that he has a some work to do before he can unequivocally coin the phrase, “Veni Vidi Avicii”.