What's the hottest ticket of the season?
I'll give you a hint. It's not Pink, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys or any other meg-selling pop star.
It's Swedish House Mafia.
Swedish House who?
That's not some newly discovered Stieg Larsson novel or even, as someone suggested to me on Twitter, the organization who really runs IKEA. Swedish House Mafia is actually an electronic dance music (EDM) supergroup consisting of DJ-producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. And the troupe is selling concert tickets like nobody's business.
Ducats for the band's first announced date at the 8,000-plus-capacity Bill Graham Civic Auditorium were snatched up so quickly that promoters added another show. Same thing occurred. So, promoters kept adding more shows -- to the tune of a five-night run at the San Francisco venue.
When the dust had cleared, four of the concerts had sold out in some eight minutes. The fifth, and final, date is expected to sell out by showtime. That's represents more than 40,000 tickets sold, which is the kind of numbers that acts such as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Roger Waters post when they come through town.
What's all the fuss about? Plenty. Axwell, Angello and Ingrosso are first-tier "house" music heroes, all of whom individually ranked among the top 30 in DJ Magazine's 100 best DJ poll in 2011. Now that's a super group -- comparable, in the rock guitar world, to seeing Jeff Beck,
The added urgency to catch the trio during its current San Francisco run -- which opened on Wednesday and continues through Sunday -- is that this is Swedish House Mafia's so-called farewell tour.
The group was certainly super on opening night at the Civic, crafting big beats and euphoric climaxes that the sweaty, mesmerized crowd lapped up like life-affirming sustenance.
The production values were incredibly high, delivering visuals that equaled -- and, at times, even surpassed -- the music. The three men, all wearing dark short-sleeve shirts, huddled together at the center of a giant stage set, which basically stretched from floor to ceiling. They worked their devices diligently, occasionally pumping their fists to the sky, as stacks of video screens, each at least as long as a school bus, pulsed with vibrant colors and wild designs.
The switches were set to visual overdrive, complementing the swirling music perfectly, as laser lights beamed, fireworks ignited and smoke billowed. The production team handling the effects was truly as important as the DJs themselves, which is why it was so nice to hear Swedish House Mafia announce the names of the (typically)
What truly separates Swedish House Mafia from the other players in the EDM game, however, isn't the production — although it's hard to believe anyone delivers the goods in better fashion. What makes this trio so special, and so unusual, is that the music is amazingly tuneful. You'll hear fans singing along to Swedish House Mafia cuts, which isn't something commonly found at the majority of EDM concerts.
An EDM concert, of course, is a party — which is probably why the genre has caught on like gangbusters with the under-30 crowd. And this is the best party in town this week. It's also a kind of farewell party, so get set to say goodbye to one of biggest and best super groups of recent years.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.