Backbeat: Avicii Warms Up the Crowd at Vanguard for Pre-Grammys Party

Thousands packed Vanguard on Thursday night in Los Angeles for the nightclub’s official reopening party. Among the star-studded guests at the pre-Grammys soirée were Paris Hilton and boyfriend River Viiperi, Tara Reid, and Girl’s Gone Wild creator Joe Francis. Sultan + Ned Shepard warmed up the crowd with a DJ set while street artist, Alec Monopoly created live art outside the venue. Around 1:15am, Avicii rolled up his sleeves, strapped on his headphones and took the stage. He revved up the crowd, kicking off his set with high energy tunes while a lively audience tossed around glow sticks and waved Swedish flags. During the headlining set, which wrapped around 4am, Monopoly grabbed his paints and decorated several females. Burlesque dancers, laser light shows, and showers of confetti were among the various visuals that enhanced Avicii’s set.

The crowd for Avicii's set, throwing up the light show

“I started working with Avicii at Sundance and we’re starting a collaboration together where we are mixing his music with my paintings,” Monopoly said earlier on the red carpet to “It’s a nice synergy that we have together. We are doing a number of things together and have some big things in the works. When I listen to his music, I want to move and dance to it but I can’t because I have to hold my hand steady so it’s a constant battle of trying to vibe to the music but at the same time, have a steady hand,” he added.

Paris Hilton walks the red carpet at Vanguard

The venue’s VIP area was at capacity, but that didn’t stop the industry execs and Avicii’s crew from crowding around their tables and dancing to the tunes. Alex K (Produkt), who manages Sultan + Ned Shepherd was on site hanging out with Morgan Page’s manager, Jared Barboza (Abbot Monroe). Barboza mentioned that he’s been busy with Nettrax, the new label that he launched with Nettwerk Music Group. “We launched last week; we’re a full service electronic music focused singles label.” In conjunction with the launch, Nettrax released a track by Andy Caldwell titled “We Are The Future.” “We’re in the process of signing tracks but haven’t announced anything yet. Stay tuned. We will be focusing on standout tracks from really innovative artists,” said Barboza.

Ineaball Diaz and Hashtag Management founder Steve Haddad

Also in the VIP area was Steve Haddad, founder of Hashtag Management (who manages Nadia Ali and DJ Bl3nd). “I’m best friends with Ned and Sultan and came out to support them,” he told “They put on such an energetic show and were such a great choice to open for Avicii.”

We briefly caught up with Avicii before his set to hear what he’s been up to. The Swedish DJ told Billboard that he recently moved to Los Angeles to focus on producing music. “I’ve been here for about a month and a half and for the next couple of months I’ll be producing and am going to cut down as much as I can. The plan is a new album for me but we’ll see what happens. I’d like to have something out like early summer this year.” While he wouldn’t mention any of his planned collaborations, Avicii did reveal that his dream collaboration would be Chris Martin. He also mentioned that he’s currently working out of different studios but is planning to build one in his Los Angeles house sometime in the next couple of months.

Avicii also touched on his recent Grammy nomination for “Best Dance Recording” for “Levels.”  “I don’t really care about the award that much. It’s just good to see EDM get more recognition. I’m more going there to see the whole spectacle and see what it’s about.”

L-R: Carl Vernersson of At Night Management, Avicii and his manager, Ash Pournouri

Avicii was accompanied by his manager/executive producer Ash Pournouri (At Night Management). The duo discussed how they recently teamed up to start a charitable organization called House for Hunger – a nonprofit charity in which they contributed $1 million from Avicii’s gig fees from last year’s tour to be donated to Feeding America. The Vanguard show was in support of the organization. “This year, we want to get as many EDM acts involved as possible,” said Avicii. “We want to get more people into charity. Charity in the EDM space is still kind of rare so we’re trying to start a trend.”

Also spotted in the crowd was talent manager/agent/ex-fiancé of Britney Spears Jason Trawick, Carl Vernersson (At Night Management), Jesse Waits, co-owner and managing partner of XS Las Vegas and Tryst Nightclub (who was accompanied by models Monica Sims and Chloe Holmes), Colvin Marshall (NFL Network), and Alex Gittelson (Manager, United Entertainment).