Swedish House Mafia: Billboard Cover Story
The Ultra Main Stage played host to One Last Tour’s massive set, including the LED-wrapped, three-tier DJ booth (which had been visible throughout the festival during other artist’s sets, like a constant reminder of what was to come). Their set was an abbreviated version of the tour shows to fit the fest’s shorter time slot, but if fans knew what to expect, they certainly didn’t show it. Though most of the attendees probably knew most of the songs, each drop elicited a reaction like they were hearing it for the first time.
The excitement started before the group took the stage, as UMF’s six other stages began to empty and throngs of tired ravers began to head to the Main. After a set from Ingrosso protege Alesso, BBC Radio 1 host and longtime SHM supporter Pete Tong took to the mic at about 9:25 PM to hype the crowd. He asked three questions, each of which drew a thunderous response: “"Miami, are you here? Are you ready to rave? Do you love Swedish House Mafia?"”
Finally, at 9:30 on the dot, the stage came to life and began displaying the group's "We Come, We Rave, We Love" intro sequence. The crowd went wild when they caught the first glimpse of the three Swedes in the booth, their images projected on the giant video screens flanking the stage (for the benefit of the many fans too far away to see them). A group with only six singles obviously has to play them all.
The set began with "Greyhound” - a track created especially for SHM’s international Absolut vodka campaign - and perfectly timed CO2 bursts and laser flashes to start things off with a major bang. They went on to play a mixture of SHM music, plus that of its individual members and their respective record labels: Ingrosso's "Calling (Lose My Mind") came early in the set, and Steve Angello's mega-hit "Knas" was mashed with Axwell and Henrik B's remix of Adrian Lux’s "Teenage Crime." A high point in the set was the group’s remix of Coldplay's "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall,” which built into the final release and biggest hit of their short career, “Don’t You Worry Child;” another inspired mix was the gradual transition from “Miami 2 Ibiza” into the iconic melody of “One.”
It was easy to sense the emotional nature of the show, with Axwell taking the mic several times to thank the fans for their support and shouting out specific members of the production team making the show possible. He called it a "special night," and likened it to being their "last day in school."
In the final moments of the 90-minute set, Axwell asked if the crowd if we could "save the world one last time together" before vocalist John Martin appeared on stage. He sang live renditions of the group's tracks "Save The World" and "Don't You Worry Child" as things were coming to a close with a huge crowd singalong; a powerful ending.
The dissolution of Swedish House Mafia as a three-DJ juggernaut marks the end of an era in dance music. Whether it will be the so-called “EDM” era, or simply this particular group’s journey, remains to be seen. (Perhaps not even that: Many at the festival joked that they were ready for the 2015 reunion tour.) But no one can deny their impact: They were the first dance act to sell out the iconic Madison Square Garden, commanded the attention and sponsorship of major brands, rejected the notion that big artists need big albums, and forged a deep relationship with fans, further evidenced by the pathos attached to their retirement. They carved their own path, right down to its final destination.
Before things ended at Ultra, Axwell took one final opportunity to remind everyone that "we came, we raved, and we fucking love you." The mantra became the theme of the tour, and served as a fitting closing statement from a group that has accomplished so much, achieved so many firsts, and decided to step away from the game while they were still on top.