After months and months of anticipation, there was a certain electric feeling walking into Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, looking up at the rafters, seeing the names of legends hanging on the rafters above, standing on the floor that championships have been won on, and being surrounded by the familiar seats and aisles that New Yorker’s have grown up with. Except this wasn’t a Knicks or Rangers game – it wasn’t a Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen or Elton John concert, either. New York was about to enter A State of Trance, and the only way to take over this city, would be to transform it’s most iconic stadium into a full on rave.
And that’s exactly what happened – entering the floor and looking up at the massive structure, it was clear that this was going to be a different experience from, say, you’re average festival set. Huge screens flashed images and logos, while Armin Van Buuren himself announced the acts from a backstage studio as they entered the DJ booth. Stars in the making W&W really got the crowd moving first with a high energy set that was only hindered by brief technical difficulties with the speakers. You could see the confusion between the DJs and the crowd, but when the sound returned full blast, it only amplified the excitement in the room. It was officially game time. W&W are some of the most exciting young producers in the game, evident by their already impressive reservoir of bangers. Ever since expanding their sound with hints of progressive house and electro, W&W have been releasing tracks that seem custom made for a stadium – ‘Lift Off’ has been dropped by seemingly every DJ this year, ‘Invasion’ was an official ASOT anthem, and their recent collaboration with Armin himself, D# Fat, is incredible.
What do you get when two living trance legends decide to team up for a new project? An hour and a half of pure awesomeness. Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz, known together now as New World Punx, made their way to the booth together, instantly busting out their latest collaboration, ‘Romper’, after a brief introduction based on samples from the film ‘Warriors’. What an awesome introduction, and an absolute banger of a new track. It’s everything you’d expect from a collaboration between the two – the catchy synths, drumline like snares, an awesome, extended build up, and a hard, powerful drop. The rest of the set was filled with a little bit of everything – a perfect blend of both DJ’s styles. The duo’s previous megahit, ‘Loops And Tings’, a new mash up of Corsten’s ‘Live Forever’ and Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike’s ‘Mammoth’, a brand new reworking of Binary Finary’s classic, ‘1998′, as well as choice cuts from each producer’s solo career and some tracks up and comers like Khomha and Jacob Von Hage. While this was only Ferry and Markus’ second “official” gig as New World Punx, you can see this is going to be a project that is going to last a while.
There’s a reason why Armin Van Buuren was named the #1 DJ in the DJ Mag Top 100 this year, and it’s not something you can really get by catching a song on the radio, watching a YouTube clip, or even catching the end of a festival set from a distance. Beyond the precise transitions, the expertise of set building, the switching between BPMs and sub genres and styles, Armin blends his live production values with sounds that evoke so much emotion that it provides a once in a lifetime unique music experience. Without sounding cheesy, he is an artist you have to truly feel to understand. Madison Square Garden provided one of the best venues to experience Armin Van Buuren’s true talents. It was big enough to pack in monstrous screens, pyrotechnics, and an absurd lighting rig; the sound, coming from all angles, engulfed you. However, it wasn’t too big a space that the production became small; At many music festivals, it gets so packed in, and people are forced so far back, you can barely see the stage. Best of all, the GA Pit provided ample room for anyone to dance outside of the first few rows. A rare experience to really let loose and dance, and still have prime, dead center real estate.
Musically, Armin never ceases to disappoint – but the energy of MSG made everything seem a little extra special. The intro mix to Arnej’s new track ‘Adagio’ is an awesome way to build the tension before releasing into an awesome drop that ignited the dance floor. It seemed like Armin chose to drop most of his newer tracks within mash ups or remixes, like a good DJ should – you get the familiarity of some of your favorite songs with a new twist, and Armin is one of the best at finding mixes that work perfectly. The beautiful vocals combined with hard, heavy, fast drops keep the crowd on the edge of their feet. Armin’s Armada Music label had a heavy presence in the set as well, with tracks by Andrew Raytel and MaRLo receiving play as well. Armin also dropped the ASOT 600 theme, ‘The Expedition’, which was a collaboration with Markus Schulz. Ending the set was a theatrical live vocal performance by Trevor Guthrie during W&W’s remix of ‘This Is What It Feels Like’, complete with pyro and confetti signifying the end of a successful expedition.
There were few electronic music shows in recent memory that had as much hype as this. When Swedish House Mafia played the Garden recently, they were just so over exposed in New York, and many people were already looking towards their final Ultra performance, that it just kind of all felt underwhelming. A State Of Trance had the opposite effect – it was a one shot deal, out of only six other shows across the world. It brought along a top notch line up of artists and it delivered on all cylinders. The entire ‘A State Of Trance’ experience was in full effect. The best DJ in the world, showing his stuff in the world’s most famous arena was truly a sight to behold.
Armin Van Buuren- ASOT600 @ MSG Set:
Markus Shultz & Ferry Corsten as New World Punx- ASOT600 @ MSG Set
W& W – ASOT600 @MSG Set
(Photo Courtesy of MADE EVENT)