Celebrating a Funeral: Swedish House Mafia claim history, end legacy where it began
They said namaste in India, adjö in Sweden, lebewohl in Germany, au revoir in France, dosvedanya in Russia, totsiens in South Africa, hooroo in Australia, and adiós in Mexico. It was time for Swedish House Mafia to say goodbye in America. It wasn’t easy; goodbyes are never easy. After closing global chapters it was time to shut the book and end the story — time for the biggest electronic act of a generation to close the curtains on their legacy. At the same site where it all began, they did so in the same grandiose fashion that they’ve done everything and anything since their stateside explosion. Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello stood together behind a DJ booth, turned off their brains and turned on their hearts for the last time to bring their dominance full circle at Ultra Music Festival.
“Miami, are you ready for Swedish House Mafia?” Steve Angello asked as Swedish House Mafia began their set at Ultra on March 27th, 2009. After two hours, and changing the electronic landscape with “Leave The World Behind” and “One,” that introduction would become standard, but never again necessary. Fast forward to this past weekend as Pete Tong paid homage to the crew before they took off on their victory lap. The One Last Tour introduction ensued, “Greyhound” followed, and it was déjà vu all over again when Axwell picked up the microphone from the decks of Ultra’s Main Stage on March 24th, 2013. “Miami, my name is Axwell, this is Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello, and we are still the Swedish House Mafia!”
Following the hardstyle of “Wakanda” and an unreleased anthem from Steve Angello, “Calling” reminded us of the Swedes’ ability to make smiling irresistible. It was a beautiful sight, and Axwell himself confirmed that, announcing “Miami, you are as beautiful as ever.” Mixed with the vocal from “I Found You,” not one audience member was without one of those cheek-to-cheek smiles. With Axtone’s “Rasputin” came the vocal of “Leave The World Behind,” a record that helped ignite an explosion, and together the guys and their fans took the lyrics’ advice. Nothing else mattered, nothing else existed, besides three men, one crowd, the music, and a farewell.
“Resurrection” with “Together” was enjoyed in the same vein as its 2011 Madison Square Garden debut, “Here We Go” put us in a time capsule and sent us back to the trio’s Coachella headlining gig, and the “Kidsos,” “Lose My Mind” bootleg romanticized the nostalgia. Goosebumps collectively rose from Ultra’s record-setting deluge, paying testament to the old mafia saying — “Goosebumps never lie.” On this warm Miami night, it had never been so true. Through “In My Mind,” “In The Air,” “Knas,” and “Teenage Crime,” the Swedish creed was as authentic as it’s ever been.
It was the final hour, but you didn’t need a watch to know that. All you needed was the enchantment of “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” and a sentimental speech.”This is a special night, this is where it all started,” Axwell began his heart-felt farewell. “Remember your last day in school? This is our last day in school. We can tell you how it feels, and that we are sad, and that we are ending Swedish House Mafia together.” But that wasn’t the imprint that Ax and his brethren would leave stamped on America…
“Or we can tell you how it feels to have played for one million people on this One Last Tour. We can tell you how it feels to look in people’s eyes, with their hands in the air, with smiles and screaming at you because they love your music. That’s what we want you to remember us by. Thank you for coming out in Miami and remember — we came, we raved, and we fucking love you!”
A thunderous kick drum was followed by ephemeral shouts, with those shouts came “Don’t You Worry Child,” and with “Don’t You Worry Child” came the most touching sing-a-long one could ever experience at a live event. The acapella was turned down for the crowd to provide it themselves — and they did, singing at the top of their lungs. Something was still missing. That was until Steve conducted the final sit down-jump up routine — something that no Swedish House Mafia show would be without, especially not their last. Snowballing the sentiment, “Sweet Disposition” hit home and spurred flashbacks of Swedish House Mafia shows past, and the final moments would bring back even more memories.
“Miami to Ibiza” was a memento of the standard procedure that placed One in the hearts of dance fans — then it happened. The song that made history at the same site four years prior took hold, and Axwell, Sebastian, and Steve each took a moment to acknowledge the significance of “One” before unleashing it on Ultra Music Festival in tandem with the weekend’s most intense fireworks and pyrotechnics. Chants of “one more song” rang through Bayfront Park and Axwell posed the question of the night.
“Miami, we’ve got one question for you. Can we have the last dance with you? Can we save the world one last time together?” A harmonic piano introduction gently introduced “Save The World” before it built, dropped, and Sebastian Ingrosso grabbed the mic; “I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you for this great journey that you’ve given us, all the places that we’ve been and all the love we’ve got.” He finished his thanks and gave hope for the future; “It’s a new horizon upon us, one love!”
Few watery-eyed, few still dancing, most in awe, “Save The World” grew into its grand finale of a bootleg and Axwell’s “celebrating a funeral” motto was recognized. The celebration ended, the funeral sank in, Swedish House Mafia was no more.
They came, they raved, they loved — but it wasn’t that simple. They didn’t just come to America, they changed its culture. They didn’t just rave, they reinvented the American music scene. They didn’t just love, they were the most beloved. Their legacy will live forever; remembered as the group that revolutionized a generation, they’ve earned themselves a home in history. Obama was in the White House, Lady Gaga was on the radio, people lived on Facebook, and Swedish House Mafia redefined dance music.