Photographer: Erik Johansson.
Coming about a century after the absurdist art movement called Dada tore up the avant-garde art world with its wicked smirk, Sweden's Dada Life look to do the same to the EDM movement, dropping jokes as big as their bass drops and offering a pre-clubbing, self-help manifesto with bullet points like "Cheating is winning" and "Bass don't cry." Their tour rider states that the backstage area be filled with bananas and champagne or the crowd will be punished with a tech-house set (all tracks being a dreadful 188 BPM or below), and while all of this suggests a KLF-meets-Scooter-meets-Skrillex kind of sound, these merry pranksters are as "Life" as they are "Dada", meaning the EDM here is Deadmau5-big, Tiësto-clean, and crowd-pleasing, big-room stuff built for prime-time. Figuring out whether "Kick Out the Epic Motherf**ker" is being ironic or just rollin' on that good stuff is its charm, as it builds from literate motivational seminar to lunkheaded rave riot, while "Happy Violence" borrows some goth and industrial attitude, blasting the club with video game bleeps and vocalist Johanna Berglund acting as some kind of dark anime siren. With just the slightest bit of cheekiness, the singalong highlight "Rolling Stones T-Shirt" could have fallen off a David Guetta album, but when "Everything Is Free" spouts "There's rioting in the streets/But we're just havin' fun," it's on the wrong side of flippant, seeing as how this more-Octomom-than-Occupy release dropped during the dire global economic year of 2012. Of course, Dada Life believes in everything in excess and at any cost, so pitch your moral compass or just hope they're kidding. Either way, if Caligula ever wants to host an EDM night, this is what they'd be playing. ~ David Jeffries