After a pretty perfunctory rendition of Avicii's biggest hit, the music just stopped. Then, there were about 30 seconds of silence, and a brief four-on-the-floor kickdrum that abruptly ceased — meanwhile, in the crowd, a “Seven Nation Army” chant started up. Finally, R&B singer Aloe Blacc (of “I Need a Dollar” fame) kicked into the Hee Haw 2013 portion of the set, joined by actual banjos, a shuffling hoedown beat, and Incubus guitarist Michael Einziger. The country and bluegrass artists Mac Davis, Audra Mae, and Dan Tyminski, who collaborated with Avicii on his upcoming album, provided accompaniment through several more rock-oriented songs, which frequently evolved into pumping, four-on-the-floor tracks. From the recording, live tracks seemed to trade off with pre-recorded cuts, including what sounded like vocals from Lana Del Rey. The session ended with a final roots-dance hybrid, featuring acoustic guitars and crooned close harmonies culminating in robo-disco synth bass and thunderous drops. The whole thing was thoroughly puzzling.
While this is a great opportunity for cultural analysts to write things that end with a lot of question marks, Avicii got somewhat hosed for the move, which he responded to emphatically on his Facebook Page. You can read the whole thing here, but a sampling:
In a 75 minute set, I brought a 15 minute different breakdown with live musicians to a festival with nonstop dance music for 3 days straight 2 weeks in a row . I really wanted to switch things up and do something fun and different, as I always strive for, and this album is about experimentation and about showing the endless possibilities of house and electronic music. Its about how to incorporate acoustic instruments from different styles and influences you wouldnt expect and still stay true to your own sound and musicality which for me has always been about the melodies and positive energy. I will always produce music that I love and listen to. But my album is certainly not “country”, and people have gotten hung up on an instrument we used for the live cover of a song. Every song on the album is a fusion with house and electronic music.
We wanted to make a statement, and theres really no better place to make one than UMF mainstage. People will soon see what it's all about.
Big stuff. Take a listen as you may, the weirdness gets going just over the 35 minute mark.