There’s been no shortage of chatter over another possible Swedish House Mafia reunion since Ultra released their 2018 line-up last month. What a more opportune time after all than UMF’s upcoming twentieth anniversary edition, held in Miami’s Bayfront Park during March. In fact, if last year is any indication, it seems reunion rumors are becoming imminent during this time.
So why always with the hype?
When EDM pioneers Swedish House Mafia bid their final farewell at Ultra Miami 2013, the trio opened a speculative can of worms for when they might one day return to the stage. As festival season officially kicks off in March with Ultra at the helm, this year has reignited the SHM rumor mill. Indeed, there have been several happenings hinting at what would be a monumental reunion to be sure. The first and most obvious indication is the appearance of Axwell Λ Ingrosso on the 2018 bill, which naturally evoked fan chatter that Steve Angello would somehow jump out of a cake on stage. However outlandish and unlikely, the speculation comes alongside the fact that SHM recently wiped its Twitter account clean, spurring Billboard to stir rumors that a reunion was on the books for 2018, according to sources close to the publication. Additionally, Steve Angello began following Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso separately on Twitter last month. But the most concrete evidence to a SHM return lays in a statement with Ultra CEO Russell Faibisch, who was recently named Magnetic Magazine‘s Industry Person of the Year. The honor came with an exclusive interview in which Faibisch spoke vaguely to this year’s special anniversary appearances,
“…something very big is in the works! Every year we pride ourselves on delivering for our fans special unannounced performances and surprises. But for the big 20th Anniversary, we knew we had to deliver something huge. Something unique that can only be seen at Ultra. It is completely under wraps. The only thing I can say is to Expect The Unexpected.”
So will a SHM reunion actually happen?
It’s possible, but highly unlikely. If these are in fact the only signs of a possible return, the responsible reaction to a reunion need be a highly skeptical one at best. There is also plenty of evidence to negate the trio’s return to the stage. First, Steve Angello won’t even be in the US during the time of Ultra 2018, which not only rules out chances of a SHM reunion, but any appearance during Miami Music Week at all. According to YourEDM, Angello confirmed to a fan in a DM that he is booked for gigs in Asia during the latter part of March. Second, when Billboard speculated a 2018 SHM return, the group’s longtime manager Amy Thomson categorically denied the news via Twitter. Third, while a possible SHM reunion seems inevitable, right now just isn’t the right time. While the group remain good friends, let us remember the trio originally disbanded five years ago because they felt what they were doing was artistically empty. As Angello told HuffPost,
“I think we felt like it had become a very big machine. I think the pressure … It just wasn’t having fun anymore. It was this humongous monster. We felt like tired.”
Thus, the possibility of an SHM reunion seems inevitable on the longer horizon. The moment can and will happen when Ingrosso, Angello, and Axwell collectively feel creatively compelled to create something substantively meaningful — sans any big anniversary line-ups, financial motivation, or commercial gain. As art should be.
So then, what’s the big surprise?
Several fan hypotheses have popped up on r/UMF over more practical predictions as to what we might expect from a twentieth anniversary line-up that says to “expect the unexpected.” First, there’s been speculation over long time friend Alesso joining Axwell and Ingrosso for some sort of SHM offshoot performance. Another possibility is the return of Avicii, as the star made his meteoric return to dance music just this past year. Additionally, Jack Ü is another likely performance to expect, since the duo comprised of Diplo and Skrillex made their debut at Ultra 2014. With Hardwell and Armin van Buuren’s huge b2b performance as Two Is One taking place at Amsterdam Music Festival 2017, hopes have also been high over a follow up performance among Ultra fans.
It’s difficult to determine the many possibilities Ultra has in store for 2018. While the evidence to a SHM reunion seems bleak in the eyes of some, yet hopeful in the eyes of others, we find that speculation leads to expectation, and expectation leads to disappointment. To let go of expectation is to be content with whatever outcome Ultra Music Festival has in store for their 20th anniversary festival.
Photo credit: Jordan Lloyd