DJs are quickly becoming this generation’s rock stars, as young people are searching for voices to call their own and are increasingly turning to DJs for live entertainment. As Electronic Dance Music continues to infiltrate the mainstream, popular DJs are upgrading from intimate nightclub venues to massive concert halls. Playing a great DJ set is only half the battle, as the fans have come to expect a first class show to accompany it. “Cosmic Opera” headlined by Axwell, definitely delivered on Thursday.
Fresh off the success of the sold out Swedish House Mafia “One Night Stand” live concert at MSG, DJ/Producer Axwell has teamed up with concert promoter Justin Cohen for an “Extrasensory Dance Event.” After a clever viral marketing campaign, the two-night event sold out in just minutes.
The show began with a circus ringmaster with a glowing blue baton handing off to the opening act “No ID.” The stage is elaborately decorated with large screens and lasers surrounding the DJ booth, which is wrapped in golden orchestra pipes. “No ID” warms the crowd up with a pretty slowly ascending set. The sound system is amazing with a wall of bass that makes the entire venue vibrate with each pulse.
When “No ID” hands off the baton to the second act of the evening, the live performance aspect begins. Dancers hop up from the crowd and do a “Corde lisse” act reminiscent of “Cirque du Soleil.” White cloth ropes come down from the ceiling, as dancers climb up and hang precariously above the crowd, jumping from rope to rope. As they all graciously come together onto the center rope, Deniz Kolou opens with the Ferry Corsten track “Hearts Connected” -- and Deniz puts together a great high-energy set and the crowd, which is enormous at this point, goes crazy when he plays his signature track “Tung.”
As Deniz’s set comes to a close, an opera singer begins to sing from the balcony. Shapeless figures dance on stage and the energy of the crowd grows. The opera singer makes her way to the floor, where she is hoisted on a platform above the audience and carried to the stage. As she comes to the end of her solo, organ music is heard and the entire stage parts as the DJ booth transforms into a giant church organ.
Fog shoots up from the stage as Axwell appears and opens with his remix of the Ivan Gough Track “In My Mind”, as the crowd sings along to the lyrics. Dancers surround each side of the booth. When he plays his mix of the Michael Calfan tune “Resurrection”, the venue erupts in excitement. Axwell keeps the crowd moving with track after track of hits, including many of his classic remixes as well as popular Swedish House Mafia songs. All of this is accompanied by an amazing light show that stretched from the stage to the balconies.
The show was exceptional overall and its success will surely keep the growing trend of EDM-centric concerts moving forward. The combination of pulsating beats, compelling visuals and captivating performances came together for a one of a kind experience. Six hours of wall to wall entertainment that entertained everyone in attendance. Over three hours of which was carried by the world class DJ Axwell himself, who put together a set few in the industry could match.
It combined the energy of a rave, with the elegance and artistic touch of a classic opera. They are just scratching the surface of the possibilities for this kind of entertainment, as house music and theatrics seem to compliment each other perfectly. I’m looking forward to see how shows like this evolve in the future.
Sean is a blogger and nightlife promoter at various venues throughout the city.
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