It’s 7:30 p.m. on the first night of Ultra Music Festival's second weekend. And after a 20-minute excursion including a four-block walk amongst festivalgoers, a golf cart ride, and maneuvering past security guards who demanded yet another wristband, headliner Eric Prydz has finally arrived at the main stage.
Martin Solveig, known for being a DJ/producer, is singing a new pop production to close out his set, and Prydz is watching from the side with a puzzled expression. He picks up a Jack Daniels bottle and is about to pour his first drink when the stage manager informs him that his set has inexplicably been moved up. Prydz’s manager insists there must be a mistake, but the schedule has apparently been shuffled at the last minute. (It became apparent later that the extra 10 minutes went to CAZZETTE, a developing artist on Avicii manager Ash Pournouri’s At Night roster.)
So Prydz dashes onto the stage just as its massive screens comes to life with his logo. He begins to play his mix of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” as custom visuals of churches and stained glass sweep across the stage. By the time he closes his set an hour later with his classic track “Allein,” he’s taken the enormous crowd on a musical journey only Eric Prydz can lead. He walks off the stage, gives his girlfriend a hug and a kiss, and shakes hands with other well-wishers and friends around him. He takes out his iPhone to check Twitter, only to find the app won't work because of the more than 10,000 mentions he has received from fans during his performance. But all this approval isn’t enough to satisfy him. "I can't believe I forgot to play 'Everyday,’” he says, referring to one of his most popular tracks.
The mystique-laden Eric Prydz is one of the most beloved and complicated figures in dance music. While often thought of as the fourth member of Swedish House Mafia (he came up with the other three in their native Stockholm), Prydz has a more underground rep.
His mostly instrumental productions are dissected, replayed and coveted by everyone from new EDM fans to old school house heads. Now Prydz is in the midst of a major run at the American market. He headlined last year’s Identity Festival tour, and is signed to SHM’s label Astralwerks, under the same type of 360 deal that supported their unusual career. A summer album is reportedly planned, along with a headlining tour. He recently announced a residency at The Wynn in Las Vegas called Black Dice. If all goes according to plan, 2013 will be the year of Eric Prydz. The only thing that could get in the way? Eric Prydz.
Over the course of this single day, Prydz was the celebrated surprise guest at BBC dance icon Pete Tong’s pool party, and turned in this triumphant set at Ultra. But for the first time in his career, he had to leave his headlining gig at nightclub Space mid-way through his three-hour set, when an anxiety-producing mishap turned into a total meltdown. Prydz also has a deep fear of flying, which is part of what kept him from following his friends to America three years ago to find stardom.