As Swedish House Mafia closed out an epic hour-and-a-half-long set at London’s Roundhouse Theater last night, Axwell – one of the group’s three DJ/producers – took to the mic. “Know this,” he shouted. “The Swedish House Mafia has got nothing but love for you.” And during its show headlining the month-long iTunes Festival, the trio showed their love with mash-ups, remixes and pyrotechnics galore.
Dance-music juggernaut Swedish House Mafia may have seemed ill-suited to the Roundhouse Theater; at first glance, the intimate space doesn’t lend itself to confetti cannons and fist-pumping (the festival’s other acts include Adele and the Foo Fighters). But SHM fans scarcely noticed, as they packed into the small space hours before the group was set to take the stage. Computerized heartbeats boomed while the men of Swedish House Mafia assumed their positions: side by side, heads bobbing in unison, hands triumphantly in the air. They wasted no time pulling out YouTube favorite “Miami 2 Ibiza,” accompanied by sun-soaked footage of the beach cities. Vocalist John Martin joined the group onstage to lead an energetic sing-along of “Save the World,” their latest track. (Watch a video of the performance below.)
Throughout the set, SHM played all the songs a fan would expect: the group’s collective singles (“One,” “Leave the World Behind”) and reworked songs by the individual DJs (Axwell’s “Heart is King,” Angello’s “Knas”). The men seemed to have the most fun, however, when they mixed it up, peppering their synth beats with verses of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” Lady Gaga’s “Judas” and the Police’s “Voices Inside My Head.”
Swedish House Mafia knows how to use dance music’s formula – the build-up/drop/break-down rollercoaster – but perhaps to a fault. Audience members visibly slackened after each big breakdown, knowing just how long it would be until the next arrived. But fun, vibrant visuals provided ample distraction: footage from SHM’s weekly Masquerade Motel party was mixed with footage of bikini-clad girls partying, the mafiosos themselves partying.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Swedish House Mafia’s globe-trotting, champagne-swilling lifestyle after dancing through one of their shows; maybe that’s why, after the show ended and the lights went up, shouts of “Where’s the after party?” could be heard throughout the Roundhouse.