Fred again, A.V.B & more: The biggest sets of SS23… so far 🎪
Kicking off way back in April with Coachella, the festival season of 2023 has been one to remember. A wash of extravagant stage designs, stacked lineups, and phenomenal live sets has put the past five months of a pedestal, and as the highlight of most ravers’ years begins to reach it’s climax, we look back at some of the standout performances for across the world of electronic dance music.
Armin van Buuren @ Burj Khalifa, UAE
A pillar of the trance scene and a long-standing figure within dance in general, Dutch legend Armin van Buuren has spent almost three decades bringing his high energy sound to the masses. Whilst this year sees the A State Of Trance host move to a reduced touring schedule, that hasn’t stopped him from pushing the boundaries of his performances to new heights… literally.
Taking to the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE – for Romania’s UNTOLD festival, van Buuren laid down a remarkable 40 minute set from a dizzying altitude, fusing a string of recent and forthcoming releases from his Armada label into one flawless display. Though this might not be the most groundbreaking set musically, the shear extravagance to perform at such a venue certainly ranks Armin’s Burj Khalifa takeover as one of the sets of the summer. Check out Armin van Buuren’s full set below and grab the tracklist here.
Swedish House Mafia @ Kappa Futur Festival, Italy
Do we need to say any more that those words: Swedish House Mafia? The trio of Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso have once again conquered the world of electronic music with their Paradise Again world tour, but whilst their arena shows showcased the SHM that most have grown up on, their performance at Kappa Futur Festival showed an underground side to the Swede’s that may indicate the next path on their ongoing journey.
Bringing a darker, club-ready sound to the Italian festival, the three took to the stage facing a crowd who – by attending Kappa Futur – were typically into a more techno/underground vibe, and read their audience to perfection. Showcasing new music from the likes of Corey James & Hiisak, Meduza, and a long-awaited ‘Omen ID’ from the trio, Swedish House Mafia truly made the Kappa stage their own, bringing the new era of SHM to the hills of Italy.
Check out the set and grab the full tracklist here.
Martin Garrix B2B Alesso @ Tomorrowland, Belgium
Two of the biggest names in the electronic scene coming together for a one-off back-to-back set at (arguably) the pinnacle of festival season? Oh, go on then! When a ‘surprise set’ was announced for Martin Garrix’s STMPD stage at Weekend 1 of Tomorrowland, few would have expected such a gargantuan collision.
The 90 minute performance was a standout amongst two weekend in the Belgian town of Boom, with the pairing blending their signature progressive and electro-tinged sounds over an hour and half of pure energy. Premiering exclusive mashups that brought both producers’ biggest records together set the crowd at The Library Stage alight, with a flurry of seamless and speedy transitions creating a continuum of tension and release. IDs from the likes of Swedish House Mafia, Julian Jordan, and a new collaboration between Garrix and Third Party continued to ignite the fire of the onlooking crowd, before the standout moment of the set to close this mammoth team up: a new, unreleased track titled ‘Look Inside Our Hearts’ from Martin Garrix, Alesso, and Shaun Farrugia. Rounding out this exceptional performance in style, this Dutch-Swedish crossover was a true once in a lifetime experience.
Don’t worry though, you can check out the full set below and grab the tracklist here.
Fred again.., Four Tet & Skrillex @ Coachella, USA
Heading back to the start of the summer, few could’ve predicted the magnitude of the Pangbourne House Mafia’s rise. Highly regarded for their individual projects, the newfound trio of Fred again.., Four Tet, and Skrillex became a new phenomenon that the world never knew it needed. After their ‘last minute’ shows in London way back in January – which almost certainly weren’t last minute, but we won’t spoil the fun – the PHM were a hotly demanded commodity that only the UK had the pleasure of experiencing.
However, after their pop up set for The Lot Radio in Times Square, plus shows at New York staple venues such as Good Room, Le Poisson Rouge, and the iconic Madison Square Garden, it was time for the three to grace the US’s prime summer hotspot: Coachella. Bringing a surprise closing set to round out Weekend 2, Fred, Kieran, and Sonny ignited a spark in the California desert with a collection of edits, mashups, and stellar live specials.
From the ‘Coachella In The Jungle’ edit of ‘Rumble’ the set only ascended, and included now-iconic moments such as Four Tet dropping Taylor Swift, Four Tet standing in the background like a geography teacher whilst Fred again.. and Skrillex threw it down, and Four Tet unleashing ‘Country Riddim’.
Words: Lewis Partington
Image Credit: AVB / Tomorrowland