Axwell of Swedish House Mafia Headlined the Party at Hammerstein Ballroom
Rave with a Classical theme was on tap at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan last night (Feb. 23). Cosmic Opera, a new show aiming to combine the symphonies and arias of centuries past with modern-day house music, began its two-night stint with a refined bang, complete with acrobats, dancers weaving through the crowd, and original operatic works being delivered to a sold out crowd.
It might not sound like a show a typical raver (or typical Classical music fan) would see every day. But Justin Cohen, the visionary behind the event, stated, "I felt there needed to be a new nightlife experience that wasn't just about dance music or DJs, or just about Classical music, but was an entirely new format."
A novel undertaking like this can take many months of planning, and Cosmic Opera was no exception. "The idea first kicked into gear in October 2011, and the excellent team behind this event has carried it to where we are tonight," Cohen said.
Of course, it also doesn't hurt to also have a few big names on the roster if you're trying to build up a new show from scratch. Luckily, Axwell  -- one-third of powerhouse trio Swedish House Mafia  -- was cast as the headliner, bringing both die-hard dance music fans and even newbies out in droves to hear what the man was going to deliver.
After German up-and-comer Deniz Koyu gracefully segued his trumpet-laden set into an interlude that featured an airborne operatic soprano, the stage opened up to reveal a DJ booth modeled after a pipe organ. Axwell was in the center of the ornate array of bronze, and began his onslaught on the heavily costumed crowd with a set of big room tunes, including the soon-to-be-released Swedish House Mafia smash "Greyhound" (the track which opened SHM's set at Madison Square Garden  back in December).
Axwell was happy to oblige the seemingly limitless energy of the crowd with a set that lasted over two hours. The performers also proved exceptional; many of the dancers interspersed throughout the audience would often stop to chat with partygoers to get their take on the experience, and they stuck around for as long as was needed to get the full story.
So can we expect to see more of these Cosmic Opera events? Cohen affirmed there are more parties in the works, but chose to retain the air of mystique that has surrounded the event with his answer. "We absolutely have plans for expanding this franchise, but we like to keep everything that we're doing very mysterious. It has worked well for us so far, so we are going to continue to keep fans in suspense about our future plans."
New York has another opportunity to see Cosmic Opera in action on Feb. 24. Axwell will be back in full form at the sold-out gig, as well as German DJ/producer Thomas Gold, best known for his roof-rattling remix of Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain."
- Live