Reviews > Shows
Avicii Live in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv is known for a lot of things — beaches, cafes, falafel stands — but now, more than ever, it’s known for nightlife.
With the number of underground clubs multiplying, it’s never hard to find a stiff drink and a DJ playing to a packed crowd between the hours of 1 and 6 a.m. on any night of the week. The growing scene has naturally attracted a lineup of top DJs playing shows this season that amount more to ‘events’ than ‘concerts,’ with acts like Armin van Buren, Afrojack and Hardwell stopping by for blowout beach or club sets. But none drew a crowd quite like current house music king Avicii.
The 22-year-old Swedish sensation played to thousands on May 31 — the same night Madonna launched her current world tour in Tel Aviv. And as his set in the cavernous Bitan 1 (a massive, gymnasium-like club space) began past 2 a.m., a good chunk of the largely American crowd had already partied with Madonna before wandering across the city to Avicii.
The hard line to distinguish here, though, is indeed between ‘event’ and ‘concert.’ Did Avicii lead a huge, nothing-short-of-epic party until damn near sunrise? Absolutely. Did he play a set of music that kept the crowd interested and dancing? Certainly. But it was hard not to feel like the show was just a blown-out version of any late night Tel Aviv club, with many thousands more people. Avicii’s show, which blazed through countless remixes of pop hits (his dubbed-out take on “Ni***s in Paris” hit like an artillery assault), could have simply been the extensive lighting rig while a stagehand pressed play on a 4-hour mix of thumping house bangers. There was little in the way of surprising picks or re-imagined tracks.
But let’s be frank — this is simply the moaning of a rock writer more attracted to shows where ‘live’ means ‘live.’ The truth is Avicii’s set was a success, an undeniable one. Anyone who can keep a crowd at scale-crushing levels of ecstatic excitement until 5 a.m. without uttering a word, letting his music speak for itself, has got to be doing something right.
Avicii staple “Levels” had every set of lips singing along (featuring the same Etta James sample as Pretty Lights’ “Finally Moving”) and proved that the stereotypical house music dance move — one hand pumping triumphantly into the air — was truly an international phenomenon.
The rumor on the floor was that Madonna herself was going to stop by. Such fantasies were not to be, but Avicii planned ahead for any disappointment. Near the end of his marathon set, he hit with his remix of Madonna’s “Girls Gone Wild,” with images of the pop star emblazoned on his huge video screens. The crowd, of course, freaked out.
By 4:30 a.m., the crowd began to filter out into the Tel Aviv morning. Some were already asleep in the lobby. Many hailed cabs to get breakfast. And many walked over to the Mediterranean and watched the sunrise close the book on one of the more epic Tel Aviv nights this year.
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