Avicii performs in '53 Commons

by Kate Sullivan | 1/9/12 11:00pm

A hazy fog and color-changing light display illuminated the North Hall as the crowd bobbed and jumped in unison to a mash-up of Avicii's own "Fade Into Darkness" and Florence and the Machine's "You Got the Love," the act's opening number. A joint effort between Safety and Security and Hanover Police prevented the energetic crowd from pushing against the stage. Some glitter-clad fans were vaulted onto the shoulders of their friends and swayed precariously to the beat. Greg Dona '10, a popular campus DJ who is now known as DJ Friendly Greg opened for Avicii. The house lights remained on for the duration of his set, which detracted from popular tracks like M83's "Midnight City" and Benny Benassi's "Cinema."

Avicii's gig in Hanover was part of his House for Hunger Tour, which aims to raise awareness about hunger in the United States. The DJ, whose real name is Tim Bergling, plans to donate $1 million from the tour's revenue to Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, Bergling said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

"My manager coerced me with the idea we had been talking about doing a charity tour before," Bergling said. "I've had so many amazing experiences, so doing something in America just felt right."

The tour, which began on Jan. 5, will include 26 shows performed over 27 days at a variety of venues, including clubs, arenas and college campuses.

At only 22 years old, Avicii earned critical acclaim with his crowd-favorite single "Le7els," as well as his prior singles "Seek Bromance" and "Street Dancer." Avicii joined the ranks of big names in the electronic music world such as Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto and David Guetta, also impressing critics after his recent collaborations with Guetta on the Grammy-nominated track "Sunshine." Although several of Avicii's hits have soared to the top of the charts, Bergling remains grounded in his goals for his music and is aware of his ever-growing fan base.

"I wouldn't say that success is really affecting the way I make music, but obviously it's affecting it in the sense that I know how many people are going to hear my tracks, so I'm extra, extra careful with what I produce and what I play," Bergling said.

A charity tour appearing in the electronic music world is unparalleled, as it often has the stereotype of a hazy, drug-filled landscape as opposed to an altruistic crowd of fluorescent benefactors.

"Whenever there's going to be a young crowd, there's going to be drugs, and it's bad that people have that perception of it," Bergling said. "Hopefully the tour will also change the perception that people have towards the music, and even get other people involved, like the House for Hunger movement, and hopefully make a trend out of it."

Because Avicii typically performs in large arenas, Monday's concert was a sharp departure for the DJ, though Bergling explained that a smaller space simply provides a different experience.

"The music I play varies depending on the mood of the crowd, obviously," Bergling said.

During his performance, Avicii, dressed in his signature checked shirt and beanie cap, thrusted an open palm in the air as he reached the pinnacle of his set with "Le7els," to which the crowd responded wildly. He wound down his set with "Save the World (Alesso Remix)" and concluded the show with the Skrillex remix of "Le7els," the crowd's favorite song.

"I think it's easy to chant along to and stuff I think that's why people like it," Bergling said about "Le7els."

Due to the highly criticized shortage of tickets for the performance, a small group of fervent Avicii devotees who did not secure entry endured frigid temperatures as they gathered underneath the windows of the dining hall. "Half the people who got tickets don't even know how to pronounce his name, and at this point, it's really just like everyone's leaving because they don't think it's cool," Tom Woodford '12 said. "I'd like to go inside!"

Following the November announcement that Avicii would be performing at the College, eagerly waiting students were finally able to purchase tickets this past Wednesday, but the window of opportunity for sales seemed to have passed within 15 seconds, according to Programming Board Concert Director Amaris Galea-Orbe '11. The nearly instant sell-out was the result of "1,700 students trying to purchase a ticket at 9 p.m. exactly," Galea-Orbe said.

Although there was actually an opportunity to purchase tickets later in the evening, the system frustrated many students hoping to attend the concert. Priya Shanmugam '13, a self-proclaimed passionate Avicii fan, was one of many students who waited anxiously, reloading her page all night to no avail.

"I managed to get a ticket in my cart four times, but I was never able to check it out," Shanmugam said.

Only a small percentage of the undergraduate student population was able to actually purchase tickets only 800 tickets were available for sale in total. While the most hyped concert of Fall 2010, starring grungy pop sensation Ke$ha, sold over 4,000 tickets, which were not exclusively available to members of the Dartmouth community, the Avicii concert remained strictly closed to Dartmouth undergraduates. Graduate students could have purchased tickets had any remained for sale on Jan. 5.

Less than two hours after sales began, Galea-Orbe said she started accepting entries to a ticket waitlist, which eventually contained over 1,000 students. Only 50 students received tickets from the waitlist, however. Despite the attempt to alleviate the animosity against Programming Board, many students remained infuriated and some even took action, Galea-Orbe said.

"One girl came to my room pounding on the door and screaming about the tickets," Galea-Orbe said.

For most students, the creation of such a small and exclusive concert environment was a point of irritation.

"I really understand that [Programing Board] did the best they could, but I just think it's an unfair situation that only a small percentage of campus gets to see such a prominent artist," Arianna Vailas '14 said.

The Dartmouth dining hall was split into North and South Halls for the concert, with only North Hall ticket holders able to actually see Avicii's live performance in person. By contrast, South Hall was turned into a lounge-style atmosphere with a live feed of the show displayed by a large projector. While the North Hall audience responded enthusiastically with perfect timing to the hulking drops in tracks like "Street Dancer" and reacted with cheers to the orange ceiling graphics during "ID," the South Hall gathering, which was scarcely attended, remained mostly static and cliquey. To account for these different experiences, North Hall tickets sold for $15 while South Hall tickets sold for $10.

"I had been looking to bring Avicii to campus since last year, and once Programing Board established the necessary connections it then took two months to get it done," Galea-Orbe said. "I would rather do the concert in '53 Commons than not do it at all."

The usage of '53 Commons as a concert space necessitated heightened levels of strictness not necessarily seen before at Programing Board concerts. In addition to Safety and Security and the Hanover Police conducting random ticket and ID searches, they were also vigilant about substance abuse, prohibiting bags in the venue and requiring a hand stamp for all concert-goers leaving the concert venue to use the restrooms.

In response to the lack of ticket availability, jokingly bitter emails regarding a Monday-night party at Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity with an appearance by Avicii ensured that those who were not a part of the Avicii-going elite could still have a phenomenal night. Sig Ep social chair Nick Tropin '12, however, said that the party was not in "backlash" to the ticket scenario, but just an alternative party. Originally, Chi Heorot fraternity planned to have an after party following the concert, but when many of the brothers did not get tickets, they moved up the start time, according to Heorot vice president Alexander Tarnoff '12.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!