When music fans think of music at Madison Square Garden, names such as The Doors, Bruce Springteen, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, and Phish all come to mind. You can add three more names to the list, as Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Axwell, collectively known as the Swedish House Mafia, have broken down a major barrier and brought rave culture to the world’s most famous arena. For the first time in it’s history, electronic music headlined the largest stage in New York City. To say it was a success may be an understatement – the event not only sold out, but did so in under ten minutes. It would be unfair to talk about the event without quickly shouting out the group’s opener, A-Trak, one half of the production team Duck Sauce, of the extremely catchy ‘Barbara Steisand’ song. A-Trak put on a technically brilliant set, mixing a variety of genres to create an extremely danceable set formed with the mastery level skills that made A-Trak the youngest DMC World DJ Champion of all time. The Canadian DJ will be headlining Webster Hall later on in January, in a show that should not be missed. Both ‘Big Bad Wolf and Barbara Streisand’ were transformed into amazingly mixed extended versions of thier studio mix.
Swedish House Mafia has a knack for making larger than life spectacles. Earlier this year they essentially built their own portable venue on the beaches of Miami, and threw their own festival to compete with the hugely popular Ultra Music Festival – an experiment that also resulted in a sell-out crowd. The group treated MSG no differently, revealing a massive stage set up full of LEDs, lasers, and video monitors that dwarfed the three DJs. While the set itself was pretty standard in comparison the the groups other sets this year – current hits and classic tracks by all three artists were performed, along with a variety of remixes, mash ups, and a few of todays popular songs for good measure – the atmosphere was anything but. The stage set up and pure scale of the event was unlike New York City had ever seen before. The floor that plays home to the Knicks and Ragers was instead turned into a giant dance floor. Fans rotated in and out of seats and sections at will, dancing all around the circular Garden. As one of the DJs mentioned on stage, they really did build a nightclub in Madison Square Garden.
With the back to back closing of three of their biggest hits, “Knas”, “Leave the World Behind”, and “Show Me Love”, fans started to think of their travel plans. Right after the show, fans looking for more fought for cabs and ran to Roseland Ballroom, which was also sold out for the official after party – the appropriately titled “Back to The Masquerade Motel”. The smaller venue and lack of seating allowed for a more traditional, night club feeling, but the music was essentially the same. This didn’t seem to bother the packed crowd who danced the night away, despite an extremely similar et to the one most just saw at Madison Square Garden. Several years ago, the thought of a few DJs headlining the grandest stage in New York City would have been crazy. On Friday we learned it was not just possible, but a resounding success. I highly doubt this will be the last time we hear thunderous bass pumping from The Garden.