Rainy London, Happy Music.

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July 21st 2012
Published: July 21st 2012
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After three amazing days in the Mediterranean, we set off for the isle of Britain. When we landed in London, our flight was stopped on the tarmac, and a squad of police boarded from both the front and rear doors, converging on some seats in the middle. We still don’t really know what happened, but a group of five twenty-somethings who appeared to be a punk rock band were hauled off by the police. The rumors were that the flight attendant caught them doing drugs on the flight. Seriously? It’s a two hour flight. If taking drugs were really that important, maybe it would have been smarter to take them PRIOR to flying. Anyways, I’m sure these geniuses got what they deserved in the end. It did make an otherwise ordinary flight into something memorable though!

Stepping off the plane in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, we were quickly greeted by London’s wet and chilly “summer”. It has been raining for almost 30 consecutive days and is the wettest three months on record. After checking into the hotel in Kensington, I had grand plans to take Jenn to one of my favorite Indian restaurants over in Covent Garden, but after walking two blocks in the cold rain, we opted for a cozy Thai restaurant. Completely drained from three days on Ibiza, this was our only activity of the day; after which, we returned to the hotel and turned the TV on for the first time in two weeks. Jenn slept for 12 hours. In Ibiza, you can power through the exhaustion because everyone is doing it. Finally getting away allows you to realize just how tired you are.

The next day we did a bit of shopping on Oxford Street, had afternoon tea at the Kensington, and then headed over to Soho to meet up some locals. It was great catching up with a college friend, Morgan, after nine years (makes me feel so old) and meeting her husband, Ben, over happy hour. We then headed out to meet up our friends Yona and Alastair for dinner and drinks. After that, we called it a night because we knew the next day was going to be a long one.

The dates for this trip were actually defined by one event in particular. The EDM collective of three DJs/producers that make up Swedish House Mafia (SHM) had announced many months ago that they were hosting an all day music festival in the UK at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes. 60,000 people were expected to come from all over to arrive at this natural amphitheatre located 90 minutes outside of London. I was so excited when I bought the tickets early this year, but I had no idea that two weeks before the show, they would announce this was their farewell tour and subsequent breakup.

We arrived at MKB to find that sure enough 60,000 people had decided to join us, and the grassy hill had become a muddy swamp due to the incessant rain. On the stage was Madeon; a tiny 18 year old French DJ who might pass for Justin Beiber. Despite his small stature, he gracefully commanded the crowd with wave after wave of heavy electro builds. I will absolutely go see him again if I can the chance. Next up was Ingrosso’s protégé, Alesso, whom I’ve been waiting to see for a long time now. He did not disappoint, unlike the next act, Calvin Harris, who appeared to be wishing he was anywhere but on stage at that moment. Such a shame. During these three hours, all sorts of insanity was occurring all around us. Most folks had given up the hope for staying clean and had decided to embrace the muddy conditions. I’m fine with getting dirty, but I don’t need some idiot next to me jumping up and down in a mud puddle just for the sake of hosing those around him. After Calvin was Pete Tong, and we decided to leave the heathens, take a break, and grab some dinner.

At 9:00, a black curtain fell on the stage, uncovering a massive metallic capsule that opened up and revealed the three Swedes (Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello, and Axwell whom we had just seen in Ibiza). For two hours they powered through a collection of some of their well known anthems, some bootlegs, and even released their last song together “Don’t You Worry, Child”. The visual production was incomparable. Fireworks illuminated the sky while pyrotechnics, lasers, and confetti steadily poured from the stage. It was bittersweet in some respects. Not only was it the end of the SHM era, but it was the end of two –plus amazing weeks in Europe, not to mention a half year of planning. Dancing outside with 60,000 strangers, yet feeling oddly connected because of the music, was a fitting finale. By the time it was over, we were cold, muddy, and exhausted. But we had seen through an ambitious adventure that had taken us through eight countries via planes, trains, boats, and bicycles. In the words of SHM, “We came. We Raved. We Loved.”

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