Swedish House Mafia at EDC Las Vegas 2011: best in the business

In 2010, Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso  — the triumvirate of DJs that make up the Swedish House Mafia — were all ranked in the top 16 of DJ Mag’s Top 100 list. This was before Miami 2 Ibiza, before Save the World, and even before SHM’s One Night Stand at the Masquerade Motel in Miami. Imagine what they will be ranked this year, or even if the three entered as a group! In addition to making hit songs that dominate that EDM world, the Swedish House Mafia delivers performances that are memorable enough to be in the history books — and their headlining set at Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas 2011 was no exception. Head past the break to read more… you will regret it if you don’t.


It’s no secret that SHM knows how to build hype. Whether it’s a new song, an upcoming show, or even a movie, the trio has perfected the use of viral marketing and they harness it as a tool to get the most from their fans. Not many DJs are big enough to be able to send thousands of people off to learn Morse Code in order to learn their next big tour date, but SHM is.


Most EDM acts perform several times a week, with some of the more popular acts even having multiple sets a day. While Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso have aggressive tour schedules just like any other DJ, the trio saves their group performances only for the world’s largest and most important stages. Since they don’t do as many shows together, you know they carefully prepare for their performances beforehand, and they work to be especially fresh and energized when they’re together. At this year’s EDC, Steve Angello played a set at the kineticField on Friday, but no other members of the mafia had formal gigs aside from the big show (though we did catch Sebastian Ingrosso at Pacha NYC the Friday beforehand).


Each member of SHM is capable of headlining festivals in their own right, but all of our experiences seeing the trio live have indicated that the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts. These are three of the world’s biggest DJs, who team up in the same booth and have an incredible chemistry together. They know how to work a crowd with a mic, pump up the energy by jumping around in sync with the music, and of course, look good while doing it in matching all-black outfits.


No one besides the Swedish House Mafia had a special tarp drop to open their set nor a production-quality intro video to officially kick off their performance at EDC. The flick should feel a bit familiar if you were at Masquerade Motel Miami, as should the opening track, the SHM booty of Alesso’s “Nillionaire with the Michael Feiner vocals from Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso’s “Together.” The crowd was a sea of camera phones, with EDC partygoers all trying their best to record a piece of history as the set got under way. After the first “Nillionaire” drop, confetti rained everywhere over what was sure to be the biggest crowd of the weekend.

Having your song played as the opening track of a Swedish House Mafia set is a major honor for any DJ, but when you think about the fact that Alesso is only 19 it makes it all the more crazy. One thing is for sure — this guy is ready to join the ranks of the world’s top DJs.


Let’s get down to the nitty gritty, shall we? SHM played a selection of songs that were produced with festivals in mind, from hard hitting house tracks to established anthem bangers.Though they stuck to most of their festival-friendly hits, unlike another headliner, David Guetta, SHM layered acapellas atop the stadium-ready productions. They combined the Ting Tings’ “Hands” with the twists and turns of  “Miami 2 Ibiza,” Martin Solveig’s “Hello” with Bassjackers’ “Mush Mush,” and Sebastian Ingrosso’s classic track, “Kidsos,” with Alesso’s newer deep anthem, “Dynamite”. There was a lot of musical experimentation by these Mafia men, and the crowd absolutely ate it all up.

One of the highlights of the set was Thomas Gold’s remix of Lady Gaga’s “Judas”. Not only is this song absolutely massive, but the lasers reached their peak while a long barrage of fireworks ignited the sky above the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Aside from the SHM video intro, this sequence may be the most popular EDC 2011 moment on YouTube — and hands-down one of the best laser light shows we’ve ever seen.

Lady Gaga – Judas (Thomas Gold Remix)


Our experiences with SHM in the past have shown that their sets tend to remain pretty static for six month periods, but they wouldn’t be where they are now without throwing in some extra special unreleased tracks or innovative bootlegs from time to time. The trio played a couple songs that had us guessing at first, but we were able to track them down after a good bit of Googling across the web.  Unfortunately, a bunch of these are still unreleased, so you’ll have to settle for previews until they are.

Arty – Around the World

Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso – I.D. / “New Song”


DJs often stick to spinning tracks that are made in the studio, but when there’s a live vocal element it adds to the whole experience and takes things to a different level. At Masquerade Motel in Miami, Pharrell Williams jumped on stage during “One” to sing the chorus, and John Martin got to do similar honors towards the end of the set for “Save The World” at EDC. At first we thought he was just lip syncing, but as the performance progressed, we realized that his vocals were just spot on.


You can tell that the Swedish House Mafia puts a lot of work into its shows. The members carefully select songs that they themselves have produced, and from those by their friends. They build custom videos to build even more hype, and never stop thinking about the entire experience of it all. They treat everyone in the audience as a VIP, and save the best for last. Regardless of what style of music you like, everyone should experience a true Swedish House Mafia performance at least once in their lives. They put on the biggest show in the business.

Special thanks to Rukes for the fantastic photos.

PS: We just had to share this particular shot of Axwell. Isn’t he the man?

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