Avicii ascended the throne Thursday night as the king of special effects -- and did so quite literally.
The Swedish house star (real name Tim Bergling) performed from the summit of a gigantic white head that towered over the packed floor of the Consol Energy Center. With a dazzling array of visuals, Avicii proved that his all-arena tour was worth the large capacities. Though the crowded dance floor belied the nearly empty seats (with only three to four sections on either side containing people), it's hard to imagine a show of such scope and ambition in any smaller of a venue, and the effects were well worth it.
After two relatively obscure electronic dance music openers managed to get the crowd mildly excited, there was a short intermission, before the synths from Avicii's hit single "Levels" began blasting throughout the arena. The black curtains that had served as the openers' background dropped suddenly, revealing the almost statuesque cranium.
But though it may have initially resembled some carved sculpture, the surface of the head was anything but static. With 3-D mapping technology, projectors beamed images onto the face, of which Avicii immediately took advantage. A pair of lipstick-smothered lips appeared on the face, mouthing the sampled Etta James lyrics of "Levels."
And luckily for the audience, this was no one-trick pony. A creative range of projections synced up with the rather long set time (running more than two hours), and each one was perfectly tailored for whatever track was being mixed by the young Swede. After the introductory hit, Avicii's single "Sunshine" (originally a collaboration with David Guetta) found a furry red pattern pulsing in rhythm along the contours of the head.
Though the mammoth noggin was clearly the showpiece, Avicii never skimped on the other aspects of the show. While playing the hit that originally propelled him into the spotlight, "Seek Bromance," a large arrangement of spotlights drenched the audience in green light that suddenly turned red whenever the DJ added a "sizzle" sound into the mix. Repeatedly throughout the show, thick beams of light projected horizontally over the top of the dance floor, catching on outstretched hands and illuminating them.
After testing the water with a clearly dubstep-inspired track, Avicii continued on with "My Feelings for You," which provided one of the more memorable scenes of the night. A multicolored checker pattern appeared on the screens surrounding the head, providing a disco-esque vibe, and sure enough, the giant face was painted with the image of a spinning disco ball.
During a heavily doctored remix of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Otherside," the top of the head slowly lifted (cutting off right below the forehead), and Avicii continued to mix his beats from about 15 feet above the head itself.
Then -- because at this point, why not? -- the forehead containing the DJ gradually floated over the dance floor, which jumped and swayed as he hit the "drop" of the song. A cluster of spotlights on the underside of the makeshift carriage painted the crowd a swatch of colors, all illuminating the crazed fervency of the dancing. Avicii continued, suspended over the people, to play a remix of Ivan Gough's "In My Mind" and Swedish House Mafia's "Antidote," before the forehead piece was pulled back over the head, and fit back into place, all while steam billowed out from where the brain would be housed.
With all of the theatrics and orchestrated special effects, Avicii ended where he began, playing a fusion of "Levels" and a remix of Gotye's popular "Somebody That I Used To Know." As the song shifted into a remix of Lenny Kravitz's "Superlove" and "Hang With Me," that sense of wonder never completely dissipated. This young EDM star had set the bar for the aesthetics of a concert.
Elliot Alpern: email@example.com.