Today marks the end of a pop culture phenomena
We were obsessed with his songs. Our relatives heard him on the radio. His music took hold of the crowds and ultimately revolutionized EDM as we know it today.
With twelve years of Miami dance culture under my belt, I can attest to the shaping of Miami’s electronic music scene. Avicii and I started our paths more or less around the same time. I was an 18-year old girl waiting for the sunrise at Space, and Avicii started producing at 16 years of age. Maybe Tiesto’s album In Search of Sunrise 5: Los Angeles did it for him too? But twelve years into our house music experiences, and his journey is over.
His first debut in Miami was at club Space, July 4, 2010. Notable enough at the time with his remix of “My Feelings for You”, my excitement manifested into explosive dance moves at 8 in the morning. I was dancing, singing, smiling.
In an October ’10 interview, Avicii claimed Miami to be his favorite crowd to spin for. “I think my best gig was at Space Terrace in Miami. It’s probably the best gig I’ve had. Either that or the Terrace in Ibiza at Space as well.
“What was it about Miami…”
“Well the crowd in Miami is just a phenomenal crowd to play for. Because they’re really educated, and they know your music and, they know what you’re playing. And they know you as an artist as well. That’s why I really liked that place. It’s the only place in the world where you can have the headliner start at 9 o’clock in the morning and have a full venue, and everyone is into it from the start.”
As a correction, he started at 7 and played til 9. I know this well because my schedule was tight with another party later that afternoon.
Fourth of July pool parties at the Surfcomber were legendary. So about 4p, I walk onto the sand of the dancefloor, and that can’t be him, but it is. It’s Avicii. A seven hour difference. We’re wearing new clothes, at a new venue, but it weirdly felt like some kind of time-warp. Amid my shock, the good vibes kept going. It was one of those moments where you smile, shake your head, and mentally say, “I don’t know how this is possible.”
Fast-forward to October 2010, the music scene was getting too much. I had to document it. So I started blogging. And it lasted until WMC the next year. (Now better known as MMW.)
Those five months of blogging have helped to secure some very clear details about this artist’s evolution in the events he played here.
—> November 1, 2010:
Halloween has come and gone, and somehow we have managed to keep ourselves among the living.
Swedish House Mafia brought a taste of Ultra this weekend with a spectacular performance. The massive tent held over 10,000 fans with room to breathe. The threesome got to spin after Steve Angello’s younger brother, AN21, amped up the crowd with similar sounds.
The Halloween freaks came out in every costume you can imagine. Roman soldiers, Lady Gagas, and Katy Perrys roamed the quarters, but the most impressive was a staff member dressed as an Avatar, who’s full-body make-up (complete with facial prosthetics) and a wig made him look unreal.
Avicii hosted the best afterparty for the evening. Avicii has very much developed his skills since the last time he came for Fourth of July. Less progressive and more club-worthy, he rocked Mansion with costumed beautys and freaks alike.
—> January 10, 2011:
It seems just a couple months ago Dirty South’s double-header set a precedence for artists yearning to get more of that Miami buzz. Tiesto followed his step and now Avicii has done the same. Formerly recognized by his birth name, Timm Berg, Avicii rocked LIV Saturday night and then did the same for Arkadia on Sunday. It was a great move on his part, for there seems to be some serious fans following the young Swede behind the sound.
It’s a pattern that’s bound to resonate as Miami is increasingly recognized by artists as a house music mecca.
Arkadia, the venue featured on our recent IG post, was special, and I don’t believe Miami has seen another like it since. There was minimal barrier between the DJ and the dancer. A low glass pane, to prevent drinks from spilling on the equipment, you could reach your phone over the barrier, ask any question on your phone, usually a song request, and even be able to pass him a drink.
So by this time, I was an addict of his music. Desperate to get a picture with him or at least takeaway something, my boyfriend took a sunflower and I asked him to sign it. He marked it “T I M M”, one letter per petal in blue permanent marker. So now you know. The correct way to spell his name is Timm Burr.
The college scene was well feeding into EDM, which started in 2009. I know this because just one year prior, no one in my big circle at UF (Greek life) was talking about Ultra or EDM. I would try to explain Ultra and say house. They would ask, “Is that like, trance?” By 2009, they were the ones asking me if I was going to Ultra. So fast-forward to 2011, and tour de Florida was happening. Shows in Tampa, Orlando, Miami. We went to all of them back to back.
Tampa was special. The venue over-sold and the adjoining restaurant opened up with glass walls to the music stage. They brought speakers in and we partied our asses off to the music while standing on cushioned dining benches with a convenient table to hold our drinks. Sound quality…not so great, the glass walls eventually steamed up, but you could still see him and the hot, sweaty bath of people below, packed, and everybody was loving it. (I personally think we had the best seats in the house.)
There are less fond memories. From there on out, the college tours seemed to be more of a gimmick. Remember, our electro phase only last two years. In 2013, we were going on four years of progressive music, that didn’t really seem to change. Commercialism was having its way, devoiding artists of a individuality or peace-of-mind I would think, to create new music, something different. Maybe the substanial influx of new EDM consumers (impossible to numerate) contributed to this lull as well. If they see the seats being filled, why change anything? To say the least, fans who had been around were ready for a new sound.
We entered a weird year of house in 2013. I stopped attending Ultra after that. 2014 was a shitshow. Avicii, Afrojack, and another DJ ended up hospitalized during MMW. Avicii had a whole week named after him at the “Avicii Hotel” , regularly known as the SLS. He failed to perform not only at the SLS, but also at Ultra, where Deadmau5 covered his timeslot. A source says a big-name DJ came into their hospital with a needle still in his shoulder, but due to patient confidentiality, couldn’t confirm which one.
House music, due to whatever influences, attracted the WRONG crowd. So 2013-2015 go by. Hideous years. 2016 some stirrings in the water with Oliver Heldens, Nora en Pure, and The Magician on the scene. They gave a breath of fresh air at our MMW pool party weekend at the Nautilius. And in 2017, I gave Ultra another shot. I decided that hope exists for the EDM culture that is popularly here to stay. And 2018 blew my expectations out of the water for Ultra’s 20th anniversary. House music is definitely on the move again, and I can hear future house somewhere in there.
So. This is the story of the magic in the making, and how nothing lasts forever. We witnessed a legend who entered into what I call the Glory Days of house, where electro had its time 2008-2009, and progressive reigned in full glory 2010-2012. Avicii had much to do with that change. He didn’t enter into it, but rather created it, with others like Kaskade, Dirty South, and Swedish House Mafia. This transition in electronic music we will not see again.
I compare Avicii to the other DJs, and I think what was different. Why did his journey end so soon? Perhaps if he were in a group like Swedish House Mafia, things wouldn’t have gotten so bad. Maybe a person’s support system has a lot to do with their success.
So let his death not be in vain. Remember the joy he spread in our time, and most importantly, heed the lesson of surrounding yourself with the best people possible.
RIP Avicii 4-20-18