NEW YORK, NY—Weeks leading up to its unveil, the buzz was all about the grandeur and uniqueness that the first ever Cosmic Opera was about to deliver over two nights in New York City. Axwell, most known as a member of the Swedish House Mafia, was headlining both evenings, which, not surprisingly, sold out. The event promised to take dance music to an entirely new level, which may easily be described as Cirque du Soleil meets electronica music. There was to be a storyline, opera, aerialists and unique light show, making this unlike any other DJ show that I’ve been to.

DJ duo NO_ID opened both nights, however, I had missed their set and found myself walking in on Thomas Gold taking over the crowd. He was mixing in outside songs as Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and I felt the entire venue shake from the dancing of the audience. It was tricky making my way through the crowd of the venue with patrons buzzing about the doors getting to the back bars or trying to get their way up to the VIP balconies. My eyes also needed to adjust with the sea of neon clothing all around me, which looked intense under the backlights that shone upon them when on the floor.

There was no time for pause between Gold’s energetic good night and getting things ready for Axwell. Having taken a spot right up in the balcony to overlook the entire spectacle, those around me were commenting on the next entertainer to captivate the audience. Descending the staircase next to me and making her way to through the audience on a moving platform, was a futuristic opera singer, who resembled the diva from the movie The Fifth Element.

After her solo, the audience knew who was up next and only a dramatic entrance would do. Channeling the Phantom Of The Opera, Axwell’s stage setup featured him sandwiched between two panels of pipe organ pipes. What I loved was the mirror behind him, which allowed us to get a glimpse into his music making lair. He kept a steady, ambient vibe going the entire set, which went about two hours. What made me smile was when I heard “Otherside” by Red Hot Chili Peppers mixed in.

Visually, there were smoke canons, lasers and a massive chandelier with a disco ball center that moved up and down to the music above the crowd. Concertgoers were encouraged to dress theatrically, but many chose neon garb instead of the vaudeville-inspired style of the dancers who were scattered throughout the venue. Also to entertain were contortionists that came out on platforms right above the crowd and even more dramatic were the aerialists. Towards the end of the night, fake snow fell from the ceiling as well as one of the aerialists, who made me feel as though the fabric she twirled through wasn’t going to catch her.

The night provided a different take on the typical dance music show and even if you weren’t down on the floor dancing the night away, there was always a unique performance to keep your attention. I wasn’t too sure on a storyline for the event, but wonder if one will emerge with two more installments said to have been planned for the spring. The night was built upon the talent and the intense sets from all the DJs that had the fans dancing and chanting along to favorite songs. All the extra performers and visual elements added drama that is welcomed and needed in this genre.

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