All photos by
David C Saunders
The Swedish House Mafia’s "Black Tie Rave" may quite possibly go down as the event of the year for NYC. My words aren’t going to come close to giving this event the justice it deserves; I know that, but I going to try my damn best to do so. The simplest word that could use to best describe this event would have to be the word beautiful. Everything from the spirit in the air of giving back to the elegant dress code to the great music—all was just too perfect. So faultless that it's going to be very very hard to top in the future.
The night was special for a number of reasons. The Black Tie Rave, which was sponsored by Absolut Vodka, was heldat NYC’s enormous Hammerstein Ballroom and all of the proceeds for the evening went on to benefit the city’s Hurricane Sandy relief fund and the Save the Children fund. The artists and production crews also waived their fees for the night to ensure the utmost possible success for the evening. The night also acted as a kick off to the boys 4-night NYC run of their colossal One Last Tour of sold out shows at Madison Square Garden and the Barclay’s Center.
New York City has been a massive part of our journey and there was no better way to say thank you than to help out along with so many other worthwhile events. We had the night off in NYC before our Madison Square Garden gig…and what better way to spend it,
said Swedish House Mafia in reference to the event.
The dress code was strictly ‘black tie’ and as you could imagine everyone in there looked absolutely fantastic. The gentlemen rocked their finest suits and tuxedos as the ladies adored in their gowns and dresses—although a few people hear and there couldn’t help the urge and found ways to incorporate some rave gear into their outfit. As we approached the line looked pretty intimidating at first glance but it moved rather smoothly and it allowed the venue to fill up rather quickly. It was fun to see everyone in line waiting to go in simply because everyone looked so good and the excitement was contagious. Hammerstein had a long red carpet entrance, which was complimented with a couple photographers that took our photos upon entrance. Rather fitting for the event I’d say, wouldn’t you?
The night got going with a genuine piece of history within NYC’s DJ circuit, Carl Kennedy. This was the first time that I have had the pleasure to seen Kennedy perform live and it was everything and more than I expected it would be. His specific heavy hitting house mixes are so appealing and when you combine that with that gigantic wide-open theatre space at Hammerstein you can only end up with great results, which is exactly what happened. Kennedy's opening set was first rate, perfectly setting up the tone for the night and it was a great first experience to catch him spin.
Next up was another true part of EDM history. The one and only Pete Tong was a part of the fun too, as he continued to prep us before the Mafia. I was definitely excited about this act because, like Carl Kennedy, this was my first time seeing Pete Tong. The longtime BBC Radio 1 DJ has been on the front lines of EDM for nearly my entire life and to watch him spin, especially in this setting, will forever rank amongst my top experiences associated with EDM. His mix was all of the place and one of my favorite moments was when he dropped "Mirage" by Pryda. The place undoubtedly picked up its energy from that point on. Tong crushed the decks...
There was roughly about a five-minute gap between Pete Tong’s set and the SHM guys and by this point the anticipation and excitement was at the apex. Those five minutes felt like, at very least, ten and you could easily sense the anticipation in the air. When the boys came out, they came out hard. They opened things up with what I believe was Dannic’s "Clobber" but I am not 100% sure. They rolled right on into "Greyhound" and off we went.
There were over a handful of memorable highlights of the night but this review would be a novel by the time I got through all of them. I’d say out of Seb, Axwell, and Angello that Axwell without a doubt ran the tempo of the show and had complete control over the crowd. He was on the mic at all the key moments and he really stood out to me as the clear leader of the three—as I always felt he has. One of the moments that actually had me for a laugh was when Axwell hopped on the mic and slowed the music started talking about how they, “were scared as Fu*k” about the world ending in 2012. I’m sure you may be able to see where this is headed… he thanked all of us for “saving the world” and then dropped one of their biggest originals, "Save the world." Kind of corny but I appreciated it and got a chuckle out of it and the crowd responded as you’d imagine—craziness.
They played a variety of mashups and were practically everywhere on the radar in terms of tracks that they were dropping. I’ll mention a few of the ones that standout throughout the night: Jordy Dazz’s anthem "Claymore," "In My Mind" (Axwell Remix), "Miami to Ibiza," "Reload" by Seb and Tommie Trash, and my favorite moment of the night, "One." Just something special about that song live, especially when it’s being played by SHM. People were getting wild on both the dancefloor and the mezzanine levels. It was sheer madness in there and I don’t think it could have been any better of a crowd for this style of event.
In terms of production, it was the best indoor show that I have seen by far. They had pyrotechnics going off in what felt like every five minutes the crowd went nuts each time. That was complimented by the showering of confetti and balloons within balloons. I thought it was a really cool creative aspect of the production because at first I didn’t get it but then the obvious became clear. The larger balloons allowed the balloons to actually last much longer. When venues drop the standard sized balloons they pop almost instantly and it's over in a matter of minutes. Due to the larger balloons the fans on the floor were not able to grab ahold of them to pop. It was a very creative and cool idea that added a really nice touch to the show. Additionally, in terms of the LED screen behind the stage, all I’ll say is this… I almost went down a few times due to how graphic and in depth the production was. Yea, that good.
One last really nice touch that I want to make note of that came at the end of the show was when Axwell hopped on the mic and thanked everybody ranging from the mayors office to the event staff to the charities themselves and lastly on to us, the fans—everybody. They closed out the night with a mash up of "Don’t You Worry Child" and "Save The World." It felt like the proper way fro them to say goodbye. I get the chills just thinking about it.
This event definitely impacted my perception of SHM and I have a lot more respect for all of them and the whole team behind them. It definitely removed them from that moneymaking marketing campaign that they have mastered so perfectly. It was a really nice gesture on their part to throw this event and help give back to our local community. I can only speak for myself but I don’t know if there will be another event that can top this one...