Solveig Just Came to Say Hello

When French DJ Martin Solveig walked into the Celebrities sound pit Saturday night for his first Vancouver show, it was technically his second show in the city that night.

Madonna fans unwittingly had the pleasure of stealing this milestone from the more devoted followers of Europe’s EDM sensation when Solveig opened for the Queen of Pop earlier in the evening. But at one in the morning, when he walked into the sold-out room on Davie Street, Madonna fans had long since come off their glitzed-out pop high, emptied their three-figure seats at Rogers Arena and gone home, just when the crowd at Celebrities was getting started, too hyped to give a shit where and for whom Solveig had played before.

As far as they were concerned, this was Solveig’s first show in Vancouver, and he didn’t have to share the marquee with anyone to earn it.

In fact, when Solveig finally hit the sound pit, every square inch of hardwood in Celebrities was literally bouncing before the DJ had even gotten a chance to touch his equipment. The crowd had begun leaping in anticipation of his set, as though the man’s very presence filled the room with a phantom beat.

This anticipation didn’t last long, though. With a polite and characteristically understated introduction, Solveig added the final element that got the party officially under way, and proceeded to let his music do the talking for him.

With a few boisterous exceptions, the crowd that came out to party with Solveig was typical for a Saturday night at Celebrities, Tight shirt and Calvin Klein cologne freely intermingling with corduroy suspenders and horn-rimmed spectacles. Two dudes, however, defied that mold, sporting matching red t-shirts with the lyrics to Sloveig’s hit “Big in Japan” written on both sides (“S-T-A-R: that’s what you are”).

Indeed, Solveig took little time before he gave the masses what he knew they sold the place out to hear. When “Hello” came on a few songs into the set, the room turned into a veritable sweat factory, with people at the bar dropping whatever they were doing to spontaneously greet the person beside them, and dancers crowding the stage to be the first to properly welcome Solveig to the city in true EDM fashion. All of a sudden, Vancouver wasn’t such a lonely city anymore. At least for the few minutes the Solveig-Dragonette collaboration lasted.

Even the “Big in Japan” couple didn’t have to wait long before being redeemed, donning their reflecting sunglasses and making sure they were at the front of the set when their number dropped, then dutifully pointing at their two-sizes-too-small t-shirts every time the chorus repeated itself. The only way they could have gotten more love is if they were actually in Japan.

Throughout the show, two barely-clad burlesque performers –a guy and a girl – were positioned on either side of the stage and dancing their ass off to make sure the crowd was equally stoked. Some revelers pumped their fists, others showed their love with flashing neon batons, and the atmosphere throughout was dreamily carnivalesque.

Solveig was attuned to the needs of the audience and in no mood to disappoint. He wove his own songs in with remixes of favourites from his EDM colleagues. At various points, he oversaw the crowd singing along to Calvin Harris’ “There’s No Stopping Us Right Now”, and made sure everyone knew what would happen to them if they blocked him on Facebook, courtesy of Knife Party.

Just before his set ended at three, and not believing we’d gotten enough, or perhaps for the stragglers who came in late, Solveig gave us one more go round with a reprise of “Hello”, to the dismay of exactly no one.

Taking into account the opposing trajectories of their relative career paths, the next time Solveig and Madonna are in town at the same time, it’s not exactly clear who’ll warm up the crowd for whom. And judging by the way folks mauled the guy as he tried to leave the stage, I can almost guarantee this won’t be the last time Solveig gets to hear Vancouver come say Hello.