A 22-year-old self-taught producer who mixes melody and beats as well as the pros, Avicii, born Tim Bergling, is a wunderkind of the electronic music world. Undertaking an all-arena tour – something EDM heavyweights like Tiesto have yet to do – might seem too big a step at this point, however. But, at the speed at which Bergling acquired his ability and at which “Levels” shot up into EDM-anthem territory, Bergling’s catching up to his more experienced headlining peers.
The Bridgeport, Conn. show at the Webster Bank Arena kicked off the U.S. leg of his Le7els Tour on April 17. Bergling, however, did Coachella during the weekend before, and the festival show is reportedly his first live performance. But, compared to past sets, like his recent Ultra Music Festival-headlining appearance, Bergling didn’t just run through his hits. Instead, he flitted between his own tracks and other house anthems, mixing everything up with plenty of distortion, some mashups, and more bass and synths.
Opener Paige showed he has potential as a house-techno hybrid producer, but his set was uneven and repetitive at points. Initially, his sound was more appropriate for the Carl Cox & Friends tent at the most recent Ultra Music Festival, but rhythmic-driven tracks soon shifted to include more vocals and synths.
Opening with string chords that were soon punctuated by house beats, Bergling began his set with a crescendo that segued into some beat mixing dispersed by synths. It was heavier than what Avicii audiences know, but then again, most are only familiar with his production – not DJing skills.
During his roughly two-hour long set, Bergling touched on his hits, including “My Feelings for You,” “Seek Bromance,” “Sweet Dreams (Swede Dreams Mix),” “Fade Into Darkness,” “Levels 2,” and “Levels,” the latter of which made the crowd – primarily taking up the floor space – essentially fist-pump in unison. Between these were mixes of Swedish House Mafia’s “Save The World Tonight,” Madonna’s “Girls Gone Wild,” David Guetta’s “Titanium,” and Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.,” among others.
When it came to his hits, however, Bergling didn’t just let the familiar tracks run their course, which is what some DJs can tend to do. Rather, he distorted them to the point they sounded original. Vocals at the start of “My Feelings For You” were brought down in pitch and the beats given more emphasis, while additional vocals were spliced into the introduction for “Levels.” Florence and the Machine’s cover of The Source’s 1986 single “You Got The Love” was mixed into “Penguin,” while “Fade Into Darkness” (yes, the same track but with vocals) was given a harder edge with more forceful down beats. Yet, even when offering up something new, Bergling did this in snippets. At times, this gave his set a moderately frenetic quality.
Part of bringing an EDM act to an arena is the visuals. After all, playing in an arena or large outdoor space offers more freedom, in this regards, to clubs. While Avicii’s strong enough to not depend on visuals, unlike some DJs, those at the Bridgeport show were basic: a projection behind and in front of the stage displaying vaguely Tron-like graphics. They neither enhanced his performance nor detracted from it.