Avicii @ Pier 94 12.31.11

by Sammy Kaufman (Communications), published January 17th 2012

photos by Sebastien Camelot

Heaven has been depicted as a place of perfection, a world of utmost bliss where problems cease to exist and all of the world’s greatest questions are answered.  It may not be kosher to make the comparison but I’m having a hard time illustrating Avicii on New Years Eve any other way.

The Swedish sensation, Tim Bergling, has been at the forefront of the most recent movement of electronic/house music.  With singles such as “Levels” and “Fade into Darkness” the 22 year old is effortlessly leading Americans to the lights of this addicting music genre.

The 133,000 square foot Manhattan venue, Pier 94, sits massively on the West Side Highway with the capability of holding over 11,000 people.  Naturally, with such space the line to enter took a good forty minutes in weather a little too cold with attire too few.  Even with Avicii’s start time of 1:30 am the atmosphere was electric with a cast of characters ranging from casual NYC club goers to the tutu-clad, topless ravers.  Despite the anticipation of such a headliner, openers Arty, Glenn Morrisson and Cazzette kept the attention of the energetic crowd playing both original songs and those of favorites such as Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto and Afrojack.

With the ball dropping even before Avicii took the stage it seemed as if the highlight of the night was inaccurately placed.  However, only 5 seconds into the 3-hour set it became clear that the biggest events had yet to occur.  Opening with the worldwide hit, “Levels,” was bold, but resulted in the explosion of the crowd.  As Etta James’ soulful voice bellowed throughout the pier from the sampled track “Something’s Got a Hold On Me,” the audience of thousands transformed into a sea of movement.  With multi-colored lights, smoke machines and a rain of balloons signaling the DJ’s entrance, it was impossible to dismiss such a perfect moment.

The crowd would not hear the full track until 19 songs later however as the Old School Intro faded into “Spectrum,” a collaboration between Avicii and David Guetta with Florence + the Machines’ track of the same name.  A combination of energetic dance music and powerhouse vocals, I couldn’t imagine a better song to lead into the set.

Over the course of three hours Avicii played a total of 40 songs going until 4:30 in the morning.  From fan favorites like “Bromance” and “ID,” to Tiesto’s “Escape Me” and Swedish House Mafia’s “Calling,” all ends of the spectrum were covered.  Although it is challenging to achieve variety in a genre such as electronic music, the opportunity to combine different musical styles offers a general appeal across audiences.  Some of the most memorable moments during Avicii’s set was  The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside” as well as “Otherside” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers revamped to the speed and style of today’s dance music.

Logistics aside, the most incredible thing about this New Years Eve concert was the atmosphere it radiated.  From the over the top detail of lasers, smoke and confetti to a bliss soaked crowd dancing to a theme of a fresh start I truly cannot imagine a better way to ring in 2012.  As we left the pier at the bright morning hour of 6:30 am and I stood there, freezing, hailing a cab that would never come I couldn’t help but to have a smile on my face thanks to a DJ, good friends, and excitement for the year ahead.  Cheers to 2012.

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