By Monique Williams
This all began on August 4th, when I was tipped off about an event set to take place in Riverside, that unknown to me would forever hold a very special place in my heart. Fox Riverside Live had curated a concert dedicated to my favorite DJ of all time, Avicii. As we all know, Avicii, born Tim Bergling, had been suffering from health problems since 2013 and in April of 2018 had passed away. So this event created to honor his memory and musical legacy was touching to a huge Avicii fan, like myself, and immediately caught my attention. The event Levels: An Avicii Party was scheduled to be held at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium (RMA) in Riverside, California on August 23rd. The musical selection would be a tribute to honor the late artist and DJs would spin his famous tracks, as well as songs from other big names like Galantis, Fat Boy Slim, DJ Snake, Tiesto, and many more. Plus there would be sets dedicated to Swedish House Mafia (SHM) and Calvin Harris. Doors to the event would be opened at 8PM and would end at 12:30AM.
Now, like most Riverside Live events, I had always found out about them late and they never do enough advertising to get the turnout that these events deserve and could have. It’s almost as if you have to be a part of some special niche in order to really hear about them, but I digress. As soon as I saw the event, I immediately entered their ticket giveaway hoping to at least make it to the event. Even if I didn’t win, it wasn’t a big deal as tickets were only $15, and if you used the secret code “levels” you got an even bigger discount. This was a steal for the type of fun event it was.
Before the event Kelly, Bernard, and I all met at Riverside Food Lab, because: 1) I have to eat before events, 2) the Food Lab is an awesome spot to hang out on a Friday night, and 3) I just like the food and the Food Lab. It turned out to be a popular choice as I ran into some of my friends who were also going to the event. Following our dinner and drinks, we took a short walk to the RMA down the street. As I was walking up, I was immediately serenaded by the sweet vocals from SHM, which was definitely a sign that it was going to be a good night. After passing ID check and security (which were both a breeze), I checked out the layout. The RMA has three floors, and the event was limited to the main auditorium floor and the downstairs patio with the balcony and a majority of the lower level blocked off. None of that was a problem because there was plenty of floor space to dance around and be able to breathe. Since I happen to love food, they did have a stand where you could buy food, I didn’t get the opportunity to check it out, but it was there. In addition, I saw four bars on the main auditorium floor to give any attendee the liquid courage they needed to show off their dance moves (and I saw A LOT of dancing that only alcohol could accomplish).
Of course like all events, it started off very slow. Not a lot of people, and there was plenty of space to cut a rug. So the wallflowers hung out on the outskirts and the party animals were already dominating the dance floor. As the DJs continued throwing down solid track after track, the crowd of all different shapes, sizes, and walks of life started trickling in, until there was a huge crowd around the stage unified as one through their love of the music and genuine good times. As the music transitioned from the classic sound of SHM “Greyhound” and “Save the World”, to the smooth melodic beats of Calvin Harris with hits like “Summer”, “Feel So Close”, and “Cuba” it brought back those EDC vibes to a point it was clear everyone was having a good time.
Leading up to the event, there was this slow build-up of emotions that had begun. I knew that at some point during the night, the dam of tears would burst and I would end up a sober-sobbing mess with only the music and my friends to help me get through. I stood strong, held it together, reunited with old friends, danced with new friends, and truly enjoyed the night. Then the moment we all waited for finally came when the sounds of “Waiting for Love” started playing. That was when it started. I froze, as every memory I have ever had seeing Avicii live rushed through me: every EDC (2013, 2014, 2015), White Wonderland 2013, Hollywood Bowl 2014, XS Nightclub 2015, and the tears began pouring down my cheeks. The hugs that followed were incredibly comforting as we all sang along. Then the DJ took us to church with Etta James “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” sample and the smoothest transition into Levels that I had ever heard. Now, I did not appreciate the vocals of Goyte’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” mixed with Levels. Since, that song needed no help or rendition, just saying. Other songs that got the crowd pumped and eliciting more tears from me were “Sky Full of Stars”, “Seek Bromance”, “Wake Me Up”, and “My Feelings for You” as well as so many others. The most memorable part of the night was when I was dancing near the front of the stage with my friends when “Silhouette” started playing. I remember looking up at the DJ and silently thanking him for taking it back and playing a set that mirrored the passion, fun, and creative tone of Avicii’s sets. A proper tribute to the late artist.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Avicii fan. It didn’t matter where he was performing; I was always down to go and even went to TomorrowWorld when he had to cancel his upcoming shows due to his health. I would have traveled to the ends of the earth to watch him perform had he not retired from touring and performing in 2016. Then when he passed last year Coachella weekend, it was the most devastating news I had heard. Once again I was crying everywhere, at work, on the drive to Coachella, during every tribute, on the way home, and even now. I loved Avicii’s passion for music. I loved how that passion translated to raw emotion to affect my very core. I love the way his music makes me feel. I love how I am able to feel it with every ounce of my being, which is the weirdest and most mind boggling thing to have to explain. His music resonates with me and makes me happy regardless of what I am going through and knowing I would never be able to be moved again by his music live, has been tough. But like all things, his music and memories will always live on. So every time I hear another artist play his music, I am moved to tears (and sometimes incredibly nasty tears lol) because we all lost a beautiful, passionate soul and we still get to enjoy the hard work and efort he put into his craft. That is how Levels: An Avicii Party became one incredibly special event to me. It gave me that happy feeling again to hear homage paid to one of the most innovative and creative artist the electronic music industry has ever had. And it was all live.
As I come to a close, I have to say that I been attending music festivals since 2012. In the past three years I’ve lost that spark or feeling of euphoria and excitement you get when you know its rave day. Events have felt so mundane, with the exception of Countdown, Groove Cruise, EDC Mexico, Tomorrowland, and Escape Psycho Circus. Let me tell you, after listening to the DJs spin the classic tracts that took me back to circa EDC 2014 and many other events back when I first started raving, I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. I watched the crowd jump up and down, the shuffle circles, the crowd singing along, and everyone dancing around, I was reminded why I come to these events. I was reminded of the community that I fell in love with. I was reminded of why we, the Festival Addicts, do what we do. We do it for the community, we do it for the memories, but most importantly we do it for the music. Thank you Riverside Live for the amazing experience, you really put on an excellent event. I, as well as others, hope to attend more events like it.
– Your Mocha Princess
Monique Williams is a Southern California based toxicologist with a passion for traveling, attending music festivals, and costume designing. Balance and vacation is key, so she plays just as hard as she works. You can follow any of her adventures on Instagram @yourmochaprincess. Remember, there’s way too much fun to have in this world, so have it…all of it.