ACL Fest 2012
Avicii's ascent to stardom is perhaps the biggest music success story of 2012. While the 23-year-old from Sweden had already made his mark in DJ culture (placing 6th in the 2011 DJ Magazine Top 100 poll), his rise from a low-key Monday night gig in January at Austin Music Hall to playing to tens of thousands at Zilker Park on Friday night has been truly remarkable.
The young DJ has found buzz everywhere he travels this year: Madonna appeared during his set at Miami's Ultra Festival, Forbes recently named him one of the world's top earning DJ's and he was chosen as the face of Ralph Lauren's new casual line Denim and Supply.
As EDM continues to dominate pop airwaves and gain favor among young music fans, it wasn't that surprising that C3 went ahead and booked a DJ act as a headliner. To be fair, they've been working EDM in for a couple of years, and the huge crowds at last year's Skrillex and Pretty Lights sets likely gave them the mental green-light to continue the trend.
Avicii's piano lines were heard often, but this live show was built for crowd-pleasing and was inherently less subtle than his records. It was build, build, drop — and the crowd seemed fine with that.
For his set, Avicii DJed in a booth atop a giant porcelain face that displayed 3D images across its surfaces that were synced to his music cues. Starting from a sample of The Who's "Baba O'Riley," Avicii moved through a sleek and well-honed 75-minute set.
The "hits" were included on a regular schedule: "Fade Into Darkness" came first, "Silhouettes" about 20 minutes later, "My Feelings For You" (a bit of it, anyhow) soon after, and the massive "Le7els" not long before the close.
Lasers, screens and projections actually de-emphasized the DJ — the spotlight rarely shone on him — but he seemed content to direct the crowd with his breaks, a frequently raised arm, and knowing nods to the crowd. His signature soul samples turned up — not just the ubiquitous Etta James hook from "Le7els," but "Tracks Of My Tears" as well. He also nodded to other EDM acts, as snippets of Swedish House Mafia's "Antidote" were worked into the often bombastic show.
While Avicii's pretty piano lines were heard often, this live show was built for crowd-pleasing and was inherently less subtle than his records. It was build, build, drop — and the crowd seemed fine with that.
The park on Friday night still felt like a venue of rock fans: the crowd broke about 70/30 (or more) toward The Black Keys show, and even the Avicii audience up front didn't dance much; the go-to move seemed to be a fist pump or a polite pogo.
But young ticket buyers have spoken and EDM looks to be a fixture of ACL for years to come.