by: Ariel King
Oct 30, 2021
There are few tracks that, alone, have come to define an entire musical moment in time. Moreover, the list of songs that have singularly come to define perhaps an entire genre gets infinitesimally smaller, but at the top of it is Avicii’s magnum opus, “Levels.” The song singlehandedly defines EDM’s collision with the mainstream, unequivocally representing the early 2010’s and dance music’s first real union with the public zeitgeist. Equal parts inescapable and addicting, “Levels” was everywhere at the onset of the last decade, proving case and point what electronic music is at its core—modernized redefinitions and creative interpolations of previous works through the art of sampling. Rehashing the already iconic standing of Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold On Me,” the late Swedish producer introduced an entirely new generation of listeners to James’ vocal topline, flipping the tune into what would become perhaps the most famous dance track of all time, and launching himself into superstardom at the same time.
Now, it has been an entire decade since Avicii’s greatest work was first heard, and while the beloved producer is no longer with us, “Levels” undoubtedly stands as the hallmark of Tim Bergling’s celebrated legacy. With 10 years of “Levels” now in the rearview, commemorate Avicii’s greatest work with 10 unforgettable moments below.
Ultra Music Festival Miami, 2011
The first time Avicii ever played out “Levels” was at Ultra Music Festival in Miami back in 2011. The track hadn’t yet been released at the time, and the entire crowd held up their hands (and phones) to record the historic moment. Upon the first time it was ever played live, “Levels” entranced Avicii’s entire audience, an effect that still continues to captivate ravers today.
Avicii’s 2012 Tomorrowland performances proved to be some of the most memorable layouts of “Levels.” As fans from all around the world gathered at the festival and stood on top of each other’s shoulder, the ground quaked while they moved in a wave. Fans danced to “Levels” as far out as they could see, Avicii himself spotted mouthing the lyrics, watching the spectacle unfold before him.
While “Levels” often served as the closing track for many of Avicii’s sets, he opened his performance at Coachella in 2012 with the track. As many fans commented at the time, it takes gall to open up with your most well-known track. However, Avicii knew what he was doing as the crowd cheered his name, and the performance continues to give chills with each revisiting.
T in the Park, 2015
Avicii’s “Levels” sampled Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold On Me,” and his 2015 performance at T in the Park played out a longer portion of the original song. James’ vocals vibrated through the crowd, her gospel tone creating an almost religious experience for those who had been in attendance during the moment. After finishing up a verse from James, Avicii went into his beloved rendition of “Levels.”
Tomorrowland 2016 saw Avicii playing “Levels” into “Wake Me Up,” and his performance at the festival is considered one of his most iconic and celebrated. The two songs were played out toward the end of his set, with fans waiting holding their breath for nearly the entire performance in order to hear the song.
Bounce Music Festival, 2011
Shortly after releasing “Levels,” Avicii performed at Bounce Music Festival back in 2011. While the track had only been out for a couple of weeks at the time, the entire crowd bounced and sang along to the melody. Already, “Levels” was becoming an iconic classic, and the audience knew it.
EDC Las Vegas, 2011
The first time “Levels” had been played out at EDC Las Vegas was in 2011. Ten years later, those heading to the music festival are guaranteed to hear the track at least once, but the first time Avicii played it out for the crowd was a few months ahead of its formal release. Back when “Levels” was still an ID, the festival crowd began to get grooving, pulling out their phones because they realized they were witnessing history.
Globen Stockholm (now Avicii Arena)
Now renamed the Avicii Arena, Bergling opened up at his hometown arena, Globen Stockholm, by playing out “Levels.” The entire crowd screamed and jumped as he went into the song, “Levels” maintaining its classic appeal as his hometown crowd welcomed him to the stage.
Stereosonic Sydney, 2011
Still only a few months after “Levels” had officially been released, Avicii took to Sidney to perform. With the crowd standing on top of each other’s shoulders and bouncing balloons, the moment welcomed Australia into the summer seasons as they celebrated Avicii’s biggest hit.
Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, 2016
While Avicii retired from live performances in August 2016, it was hard to believe that the producer would never again take to the stage to play out “Levels.” The entire crowd sang along to the song, making for a chilling moment that is set in history, especially as Avicii is remembered.
Featured image: Rukes
Categories: Features, Music, News
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