Music review: Eric Prydz, HOLO, ALWAYS LIVE, Rod Laver Arena

The acclaimed Swedish DJ and producer created an enticing, electronic dystopia and unique spectacl
Prydz. Image is a human in a space suit projected on a huge screen in front of a dancing crowd.

Swedish DJ and producer Eric Prydz has gained international acclaim for his progressive take on live dance music. He played Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena as part of ALWAYS LIVE Festival, the 17-day celebration of music promised to create memorable moments across Melbourne and Victoria. With HOLO, Prydz offered an unforgettable experience. 

Opening act DJ Sardi primed the audience with a perfectly placed set. He didn’t overwhelm, but carefully grew excitement.

By the time Prydz came out, the air was crackling with anticipation. With his use of LED screens, holographic technology and careful set design, Prydz seamlessly fused visuals with his techno-house tracks to create an immersive, cinematic experience. 

While there was no strict story, a narrative emerged in the set through breathtaking images: a robot sitting down to watch TV with a glass of wine, humans in hazmat suits with exterminator guns (the effect heightened with smoke and sparks), an astronaut reaching out of a spaceship and into the audience and a robot (at some points resembling Spider-Man’s Doctor Octopus) trying to break free of its tethers, surrounded by lightning. 

Other striking moments included an astronaut walking across red earth to be met by a huge android hand and code flashing across the stage, often interrupted by a woman’s face. The latter was particularly powerful, especially with the repetition of bolded words “parsing” (analysing and breaking down structured data) and “purge” (permanently deleting data). 

Excitement built throughout the set, with Prydz expertly guiding the audience through the highs and lows of his cataclysmic world. The second half of his set featured crowd favourites, including ‘Pjanoo’ and ‘Every Day’, which primed the audience for an epic finale. ‘Opus’ closed the show, with the robot from the opening sequence struggling with a remote and finally pressing “off” as a red beam of light cut through the audience.

Overall, Prydz created a captivating dystopia, designed to frighten us with commentary on the state of the world and entice us with music to remind us of why the world is worth saving. 

Notably ‘Call on Me’, one of the DJ’s most well-known tracks, didn’t make it into the set. As he has infamously refused to include it in his live work, this may not have been surprising to his long-term followers, but possibly disappointed newer fans.

Read: Music reviews: Taylor Made and Summer Camp Festival, ALWAYS LIVE Festival

In an interview for DJ Mag, Prydz told Zane Lowe that he makes the ‘music that’s missing from [his] record box’. Yet HOLO didn’t just showcase music that’s missing from the electronic scene; it also created a unique spectacle.

Eric Prydz: HOLO at Rod Laver Arena played from 8-10 December 2023. The event was part of ALWAYS LIVE, which ran from 24 November – 10 December.

Savannah Indigo is a researcher and copywriter, trained in publishing, dance, literature and law. Passionate about gender issues and promoting equity through tech design, she has researched Indigenous Data Sovereignty for the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector and is developing a paper about harassment in the Metaverse. She has written for Brow Books, Books+Publishing magazine, The Journal of Supernatural Literature (Deakin University) and the Science and Technology Law Association, and is a 2022 Hot Desk Fellow at The Wheeler Centre.