On Sept. 16, Swedish House Mafia shook the roof of San Francisco’s Chase Center as part of the revival tour for its new album, Paradise Again.
In the midst of an era when staples of the 2000s are making vivacious comebacks — see Green Day, Blondie, TLC and Queen — the Swedish house music supertrio is revamping its house tracks to bring houses down all over the world on a sprawling 2022 tour.
With an extravagant set design featuring a gargantuan floating light-up halo, plumes of fog and a small army of speakers, the trio took the stage with grandeur and European flair. A large black curtain dropped to the floor as the first notes of “Can U Feel It” resounded through the stadium and bandmates Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso appeared framed by epically bright spotlights.
While one does not go to a rave-esque event expecting intimacy, the three artists were unrecognizable on stage and offered only a booming impersonal introduction as they screamed, “San Francisco, we are the Swedish House Mafia!” The magnificent theatrics, however, were met by roars from fans young and old as fireworks shot from the stage when the bass dropped for the first time.
The time between tracks consisted of a fantastical blending of beats, making transitions seamless and keeping the energy of the night consistently sky-high. As a remix of “It Gets Better” and “Greyhound” began, delicious strobes flashed and broke up the lengthy and slightly monotonous feel of some of their beat-dependent tracks.
Combined, the variation in lighting displays and the occasional bit of crowd work created an entirely immersive experience. The sprinkling of recognizable covers helped to dull the tedium of one synth-heavy tune to the other; highlights included “Sacrifice” by The Weeknd and “Knas,” independently released by Angello.
At moments, the emotional intensity evoked by minimal yet heavy sounds and variation prominently displayed the production and performance skills of the group. While the middle of the set threatened to bore the audience with unvaried production style, entirely new lighting patterns that built up the tension in the room before the inevitable bass drop kept the hungry ravers sated.
Delicate orange and gold beams during a mix of “19.30” and “We Come We Rave We Love” ended with satisfying pyrotechnics before a moment of silence and dangerous flickering red lights led into “Lifetime.” The large halo glowed red and was followed by bursts of flame hot enough to warm the grandstands — Swedish House Mafia asked their dazzled fans, “Do you feel dangerous? It’s time to get dangerous.”
The crowd felt dangerous indeed, especially after the extremely lengthy mix of three songs: “Frankenstein” featuring A$AP Rocky, “More Than You Know” and “Teasing Mr. Charlie.” These extravagant remixes were conferred after the trio would huddle at the top of the stage in a sort of conference, coordinating their next auditory attack.
While there was absolutely nothing to sing along to (unless one was a talented beatboxer) and the tracks featured very similar-sounding beats and reverbs, the performance was most obviously more than one song. Different emotional potencies were generated through clever timing and lighting. “Antidote” felt romantic with sunset-like visuals and sweeping pink and blue rays; “One” felt revolutionarily overstimulating with an egregious amount of strobes lighting the crowd.
The physiological effects, from pounding heart to ringing ears, were freeing and revitalizing in a way that only dancing with thousands of people to a unifying beat can be. “Leave the World Behind,” “In My Mind” and “Turn On The Lights Again…” passed in a sweaty blur before Swedish House Mafia moved on to remixes of their most famous tracks and recognizable, singalong covers.
The mashup of “Heaven Takes You Home” featuring Connie Constance, “Graveyard” by Halsey and “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap brought a second wind to the raucous crowd, who at this point had been dancing for almost three hours.
With a final thank you, Swedish House Mafia regaled Chase Center with a mix of its three most played songs: “Don’t You Worry Child,” “For You,” and “Save the World.” As thin beams of light swept the stage and then the crowd, as a final round of pyrotechnics dazzled and gleamed, as the entire room chanted the lyrics, the trio made the stadium truly feel like paradise.