As the old saying goes, “the show must go on.” But the corollary to this axiom is the seldom-asked question, “but at what price?” Writer/director Levan Tsikurishvili’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Avicii: True Stories follows the meteoric rise of Tim Bergling from his early days when he was making beats in his bedroom in Stockholm through his transformation into Avicii, the undisputed king of house music. This intimate flick shows Bergling — an introvert thrust into mega-stardom at a perilously young age — as he becomes undone before our eyes under the weight of DJing hundreds of shows over six years. While somewhat pedestrian in its storytelling, the film is a powerfully cautionary tale of the vagaries fame and stardom.
House music is often maligned as a formulaic musical stepchild replete with innocuous, repetitive rhythm, devoid of few new ideas. There are a few standouts artists to be sure — DJs Tiesto and David Guetta, both of whom appear in the film, are among the best in the genre who have elevated and even transcended the form. But what Tim Bergling/Avicii — who took his stage name from the lowest level of Buddhist hell — brought to the table was truly unique. As legendary producer/performer Nile Rodgers notes in the film, Avicii was “the most natural melodic music writer I’ve ever met.” Beginning with his first big single “Levels” in 2011, which sampled “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James, Avicii broke into top ten charts around the world.
“…thrust into mega-stardom at a perilously young age — as he becomes undone before our eyes under the weight of DJing hundreds of shows…”
Tsikurishvili catches the scarcely 21-year-old Avicii at this early stage of his career, just when he was hooking up with his svengali-esque manager, Ash. As captured in the film, Avicii is soon performing at some of the world’s biggest dance events including the famed Ultra party in Miami where he premieres tracks featuring Madonna and another with Lenny Kravitz.