By David Saunders
Few DJs garner the respect that Eric Prydz deserves and receives. And if his most recent incarnation of EPIC proves anything, it's that he wholly deserves that respect and much more. EPIC 2.0 promises to be unlike anything you've ever seen, and after witnessing the opening night, I can attest to that. Prydz delivers an unforgettable experience that will change your perception of a "show".
Few venues in New York deliver the immediate sense of awe like Hammerstein Ballroom. The massive two tiered balconies swoop around the back of the venue culminating in the side balcony boxes. The design is not purely for aesthetics though, as the sound is pitch perfect no matter where you are. Having most recently been there for Swedish House Mafia's Black Tie Rave I had an inkling as to what to expect, but like anything Eric Prydz puts his name on; I knew to expect the unexpected.
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Arriving around 8:45pm, I made my way into the great ballroom to hear an opening DJ warming up the crowd (Note how I said "hear" and not "see"). It was dark inside the venue. The only lights on stage were two high spotlights criss-crossing onto the DJ; bright enough to know someone was there, but dark enough to retain the focus on the music.
Making my way through the crowd I was quick to observe that there was something immediately different about my fellow attendees. After frequenting numerous shows over the past summer, it took me a few seconds to realize what was missing: neon. It was refreshing to see an audience not dressed in bright neon colors and barely there outfits that have become a staple of dance music. The crowd was slightly older, which I had not expected as the show was 18+, but was more than welcome.
The opening acts of Fehrplay and Jeremy Olander, commonly referred to as Pryda friends (as they are both frequent collaborators with Eric Prydz as well as friends themselves) did not fail to deliver. Both of these guys have the producing prowess and live DJing skills to land themselves headlining acts, so I made sure to arrive early enough to see them both. Fehrplay came on around 9pm, the lights were still dark and as anyone familiar with his music knows, he doesn't need lights to impress. Of particular note was Fehrplay's new single "Indigo" which elicited a massive reaction from the crowd. Building off the energy Fehrplay had just created, Jeremy Olander proceeded to build the excitement with old-school Pryda label tracks and progressive house vibes. I could go into greater detail, but we all know exactly what we were here to witness.
The lights dimmed and the swarming dark mass of the eager attendees began to light up; Hundreds of phone and camera screens sparkled like stars as computer and mechanical sounds filled the room. Seemingly floating in mid-air, a 3D holographic render of Prydz's face began to spin as code denoted "EPIC 1.0 Deleted‚Ä¶ EPIC 2.0 Loaded". Let's just say this now, the first time those massive LED panels turned on, it is truly epic. As a light and bouncy yet also ominous Pryda ID began, a massive mechanical rotating turbine/engine/device filled the LED screens behind the man himself. As strobes flashed and the LED screens came to life, the silhouette of Prydz could be seen already hard at work laying out his set.
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I won't go into detail about every track that he played. If that's what you're looking for, head over to 1001tracklists.com. What I will say is that you won't be disappointed. Having a wealth of tracks from his Pryda, Cirez D, and Eric Prydz monickers, offers him the ability to play a completely different set every time. The first hour was so full of unreleased Pryda ID's that I gave up trying to use Shazam to ID tracks. However, some of the highlights were easily his staple tracks: "Power Drive", "Every Day", "Personal Jesus" (2013 Remix), and "Mokba". No matter how many times you've heard those tracks, Prydz always seems to perform them in a completely unique and new way that allows you to rediscover them again.
I don't think anyone would ever accuse Prydz of "pushing play", but for a massive spectacle like EPIC 2.0 with lights, lasers, 3D holograms, and CO2 cannons you'd assume there was some pre-set plan. You'd be wrong. While certain tracks have their iconic LED accompaniments, most notably his "Personal Jesus" 2013 remix, the entire light display was performed live. While Prydz supplied the music and direction of his set, the lighting crew gave life to the experience. After going to both nights I can personally guarantee that whichever EPIC 2.0 you experience, it will be a unique and singular one.
After attending his two shows last year at Roseland Ballroom (affectionally referred to as Prydzgiving) and now the first two North American EPIC 2.0 shows, Eric Prydz reputation as one of the masters of dance music is firmly planted. Unlike the other famous Swedes that toured around the world playing primarily the same set, Prydz has redefined the live show experience. Whenever you experience Eric Prydz, one thing is for sure: expect the unexpected.