Axwell at the Ogden Theatre, 4/19/12


Who needs the dry, sun blasted heat of the Coachella valley to have a good time? Not Axwell, the headphone-turned-goggle sporting Swede who happens to make up one third of Swedish House Mafia, one of the headlining acts at this weekend's Coachella Festival. Last night, just as the anthemic undertones of "Save The World" could be heard through the hanging speaker stacks, Axwell's beat dropped in conjunction with an explosion of confetti and strobes, giving everyone the feeling that we, too, were in the vicinity of 25,000 other people all begging the same question as the song and staring directly at the answer.

Axel Hedfors, better known to the dance community as Axwell, took a break from raging the Coachella valley to come give Denver people a chance to get down for a night. Though it certainly was not a Swedish House Mafia set, Axwell did his best to juggle between personally produced tracks and those written and performed by Swedish House Mafia that have the power to send 100,000 people into a total frenzy. If last night was just the tease, the real thing must be awe inspiring.

For the most part, Axwell's set ran pretty flawlessly with him jumping between what looked like four Pioneer CDJ-2000 turn tables with one mixer and one set of headphones that, more often than not, doubled as a visor/goggle to cover his eyes while mixing. In typical fashion, we were brought up to the brink of climax right before Axwell would delve into another house banger from the SHM catalogue.

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Betwixt precise transitions, Axwell would tweak and turn control knobs on his mixer, then check the samples and distortions, all culminating to a clean finish. Though production quality is a crucial component, it was clear that the music would be dwarfing the visuals provided on a stage spanning LED panel.

When the sexiest lips ever digitized danced around the screen during the opening notes of "Nothing But Love," it became obvious that Axwell loves to party, whether it's for a crowd of one thousand or fifty thousand. And while the set did close with "Save the World" and a seemingly unending confetti shower, the favorable response he received from the crowd was more a reflection the talents of one of most recognized producers out there, rather than to some cheap party tricks meant to garner applause.

All of this, of course, would not be possible without the openers, both of whom deserve equally as much credit for setting, holding and keeping the pace so well last night. Madeon, the seventeen-year-old sensation taking over the EDM world in a strange Justin Bieber-ish kind of way, pretty much had everyone in disbelief that the guy orchestrating the uncontrollable dancing, couldn't even walk up to the bar and order a drink.

On the heels of recent success from a track titled "Icarus," which hit the YouTube and spread like the flu to EDM heads around the world, and with the backing of Swedish House Mafia, Madeon has truly hit the ground running, even getting a nod as one of the top five acts at Coachella this year. With good reason.

Madeon is a chef with an endless pantry of samples that he utilizes to create delicious cuts that not only segue clean, but finish appropriate to the entire set. He runs Ableton like no one I've ever seen, mastering it like a video game, and merely running patterns. It's clean. It's professional, and it's the next level, if you ask me. This kid, if nurtured properly by the right people, will easily be the most sought-after EDM producer in the world very soon.

Ecotek, known locally and among the Triad Dragon circles as Kostas Kouremenos, opened up the evening to a building crowd. His deep house tracks for the most party easily stayed below 90dB, but this worked perfectly as he built the energy for the night. All in all, this was a great show that ran smoothly with no real mistakes. Each act performed according to their skill and set, which meant not playing a Skrillex-esque track at 9:45 p.m., but instead building on the foundation of tracks all leading to a monumental close, and everyone who played can take credit for that.


Personal Bias: Swedish House Mafia tracks are awesome, but I was more pumped that Madeon got moved to the opening slot from his own Bluebird show.

By The Way: Ecotek killed it.

Random Detail: One attendee remarked that the reason it didn't really sell out is because the plethora of other shows going on: Arty at Beta, SexyTime and TwoFresh at Cervantes...valid points all around.

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