When the biggest band in rock and roll, the Black Keys, and the biggest group in EDM (electronic dance music), Swedish House Mafia, play the Main Stage back-to-back, all festival tactics are thrown out the window. The rule that a crowd will disperse and one can move through it easily is dispelled. Or at least that was the case last night between sets at the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival in Indio, CA.
The Black Keys are raw, visceral, and sparse in their performances. It’s shocking to think about how much music comes from the instruments of frontman Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. Whether the stage is large or small, the sheer volume of bluesy, gritty reverb and hardcore drumming permeates through every sound. Walking from stage to stage, one could still hear the sound of the Black Keys in the background.
And the crowd was huge. But, after a few cynical observations while trying to move through a neon-clad, glossy-eyed crowd in the dark, one thing was strangely obvious: half the Black Keys’ audience was actually waiting there to see Swedish House Mafia.
The audience was dancing, waving their glow sticks around in synchronized motions to the beats, but it was hard to tell if it was the drugs or if they were actually into The Black Keys.
Comprised of three disc jockeys and producers, Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso, Swedish House Mafia is the biggest thing in EDM at the moment. Everything about their performance stands in contrast to The Black Keys’. They don’t use traditional instruments. Their sets are bold, full of pyrotechnics, laser lights and monstrous walls of LED screens with abstract trip-friendly graphics.
The youth of the world are generally the generation that dictates the future wave of musical tastes. Could EDM be overtaking an established rock sound that has been popular for half a century?
In an interview about last night’s show, Sebastian Ingrosso explained their philosophies behind the breathtaking production quality of their sets.
“They said they wanted us to play Coachella main stage,” Sebastian Ingrosso explains. “And then we built the show after that…We’ve always been very production minded, and we’ve always stretched to make a better experience for the crowd and for the fans…I think every artist owes it to the fans to give them the best that they can. With an opportunity like this and crowd like this, it would be stupid not to.”
Another group of artists that aren’t going to waste a huge crowd and a golden opportunity to do something dramatic: Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. It’s speculated that the pair will being out holograms of the late Nate Dogg and Tupac.
When asked whom Swedish House Mafia would bring out, they said,”Michael Jackson!…Nobody for us is gonna be bigger than Michael Jackson.”