Alesso @ The Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles 11/22
Last night, The Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles welcomed Swedish House Mafia protégé Alesso with opened arms to each of its 54,000 square feet filled to the brim with smile-clad fans, and music lovers-alike. Starting things off, doors opened at 10PM to the sounds of Baltimore's Matt Goldman's enticing combination of uplifting progressive and groovy tech-house. Goldman was followed by Los Angeles-born DJ/Producer Clockwork and his distinctive bass-heavy, big room sound. Even reluctant lovers of house music were being won over, and the night's main event hadn't even taken the stage.
Moments before revealing Alesso, the stage's engine began to rev. Sonically, things buzzed and volume knobs were being turned clockwise towards red. Taking a brisk scan across the crowd, everyone seemed to be buckled in and ready to be shifted into overdrive. The green 'GO' light came in the form of Alesso's headshot illuminated across the stage, the same image seen on the "Years" cover, with the titular song opening his set. It features Matthew Koma singing "The sun hits like a bullet of faith" and was matched with erupting smoke machines and a jumbotron giving Apple's screensavers a run for their money.
With his snug harmonies and intricate instrumental interplay, Alesso's set felt carefully crafted but never constrained. Its sumptuous arrangements seemed both remarkably involved yet naturalistic, invigorating, and free; its power born of the clash between the DJ's sonics and the often-traumatic crowd answering back. Songs like "Years" and his remix of Calvin Harris' "Thinking About You" were easy highlights for me. Both fueled with vocals that break up the repetitive four-on-the-floor build, drop and repeat, and repeat again, and again.
Between landmark festivals and his studio work, Alesso’s universal explosion shows little sign of slowing down. Add whirlwind tour duties and it is apparent that his days as Sweden’s best-kept secret are well and truly over.
Highlight: The sound quality and ambiance. Lowlight: The annoying amount of drug use, specifically those who needed a mirror.