Just days after announcing they’d be releasing an album together, former Swedish House Mafia members Axwell & Ingrosso closed out Governor’s Ball 2014 on Sunday (June 8) with a high-octane set, their first as a duo, featuring fireworks, lasers, pyrotechnics and, best of all, several new songs.
It’s been more than year since Swedish House Mafia, the influential house trio that helped make EDM a pop and arena-tour juggernaut, walked away at the top of its game with its last show at 2013’s Ultra. Steve Angello went solo, and is currently working on an album for Columbia Records due later this year. But Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, who have known each other since childhood, decided to keep their collaboration going: Last month, they announced they’d be releasing music and performing together under the name Axwell & Ingrosso. Their first stop? The last night of Governor’s Ball.
On their very first song, “This Time,” a male topline sung the fitting lyrics, “I see the dawn of a new beginning,” before a mammoth beat drop paved the way for a surprise guest rap from Pusha T.
Axwell and Ingrosso would sprinkle five more new songs throughout the set, blended in between songs from Alesso, Ghecko, Daft Punk and Swedish House Mafia. “On My Way” has pop radio written all over it, featuring soaring male vocals that sound a bit like Matthew Koma. “Maybe it’ll be your favorite song in a few weeks,” Axwell said.
On another new track, the pair turned an on-the-spot sample of the crowd’s applause into a percussive hiss before dropping a heavy, stuttering synth bass line.
The highlight of the new material was the penultimate “Sun Is Shining and So Are You,” which had the crowd singing along to its happy hook halfway through. Overall, the new songs were strong: Like much of Swedish House Mafia’s past work, they showcased strong pop sensibilities but also quickly proved ready-made for festival crowds — or at least this one, which never stopped dancing, jumping, crowd surfing and more.
Axwell and Ingrosso didn’t ignore their past, however. They also played Swedish House Mafia fan favorites “One” and “Greyhound,” blended “Save the World” with Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” and closed the night out with “Don’t You Worry Child,” their former group’s signature hit. They even gave their departed bandmate Angello a shout-out, playing “Payback,” the collaboration with prog-house duo Dimitri Vangelis & Wyman he released in April.
But the duo didn’t come armed with music alone. Behind them, a giant screen flashed trippy, Matrix-chic graphics that made it seem as if they were DJing inside an android’s acid trip. In front of them, pyrotechnics, lasers and steam machines blasted off, causing early leavers streaming over the overlooking RFK Bridge to stop and watch with a pang of regret. Confetti and streamers showered the crowd throughout the set. And then there was the fireworks — several rounds of it. The over-the-top spectacle could’ve threatened to outshadow the new music, but the songs’ drops were too big, brash and bass-heavy to play second fiddle. Either way, Axwell and Ingrosso successfully opened an exciting new chapter in their career, ending Governor’s Ball with a bang, both literally and figuratively.