New Year’s Eve brought the most freezing temperatures we’ve seen all year to New York City. Luckily, music fans were comforted by the fact that the #1 DJ in the world as voted for the 5th time by the readers of esteemed DJ Magazine, Armin van Buuren, would be here to warm thousands up to welcome in 2013 with a bang.
Pier 36, ways away from the other warehouse venues in Manhattan, is tucked in to the industrial edge of the island that straddles South Street Seaport and Chinatown. The venue, a warehouse that looks like it could hold a few indoor sports tournaments (it's known as "Basketball City"), was transformed into a concert arena for crowds looking to enter the New Year with a lineup of superstars. With openers Tyler Sherritt and Jerome Isma-ae warming up the decks with solid sets full of progressive house, electro and neo trance, the energy in the room was tangible as fans anxiously awaited the arrival of the master of trance music.
The event space lent itself well to the 6,000 person crowd: unlike many other pier spaces in NYC, the stage was wide and the dance floor not as deep, allowing the whole crowd to be navigable and to view the performer from any point. While there were times that the sound felt the slightest bit hollow (it was, in fact, in a warehouse), it was obvious that every action had been taken to make sure that the bass and sound were as powerful as possible. The best part about Pier 36 was that no matter where you were standing in the space, it was just as easy to feel the music just as you would any closer or further from the stage. And, for what it lacked in acoustics, it made up in heart: you could feel the music everywhere.
Armin van Buuren won his 5th spot atop the DJ Mag charts time for more than just one reason. His ability to build a set that takes the crowd on a journey is something that is really unmatchable by anyone else, and was displayed in his 4-hour set that he played. Van Buuren usually begins his sets on the softer side and slowly migrates to the harder, more uplifting side of trance, but for such a special occasion such as the New Year, he came out the gate with powerful beats and got even more uplifting as the night went on, never losing an ounce of energy.
Always choosing ever-surprising tracks, van Buuren really gave the fans a taste of his 2012 Yearmix, using the best of the best in his live performance. The throwbacks he used were absolute classics, choosing songs like Oliver Prime's remix of LSG's "Netherworld," from 2005, which in today’s world of trance seems like an entirely different generation. But, it melded perfectly into the story told. What's also astounding is his ability to gauge the crowd so well that he has the ability to play a vocal more than once, with an even bigger reaction at the second listen of it. That includes the vocals to Gareth Emery's "Concrete Angel," that was not only voted song of the year for ASOT listeners, but also was played in its original mix as well as my favorite song of the night: a live mixed mashup of Christina Nolvelli's vocals from the latter, paired with the uber energetic instrumentals from with Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten's "Brute.” The combination of the euphoric and the trippy sent everyone in the venue into a tizzy, with something that seemed so obvious but hadn't really been done before. And, it proved why Armin loves to stick to his guns – his live mixing is something that he prides himself in most and it's obvious as to why.
The New Year's Eve countdown can be something of hype because there are so many different directions it can go in. It can be minimal, or as it was at Pier 36, prolonged into a fittingly thoughtful wish of a "Happy New Year" message to New York showgoers from the host himself. In classic van Buuren style, once the clock struck midnight, we were launched into a sort of "greatest hits" of the past month in trance, with favorites like W&W's "Liftoff" and his own (and most appropriate) “We Are Here to Make Some Noise.”
Transitioning into the more uplifting side of trance, ID's were dropped that we now know to be the anthems of the upcoming A State of Trance 600: The Expedition tour, including the namesake collaboration with Markus Schulz. Of course, the closing of a New Year's set like this had to be as meaningful and encompassing of the past year as the set in its entirety. After another wish of "Happy New Year" to those listening live on the West Coast, we were brought to the moment that most hope for: a final song that brings us close to friends, bringing a nostalgic look at the end to one year, and forward to things to come. In the end, the moments felt at Armin van Buuren’s Pier 36 show were some that were filled with such emotion that only trance can really convey.
The feelings we felt in the crowd at NYE at Pier 36 were once in a lifetime, and made us even more excited for what’s to come from the A State of Trance 600 Tour, beginning this month. Travelling to cities like Mexico City, Sao Paolo and our own New York City at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden (March 30th, 2013), ASOT 600 will without a doubt be one of the biggest events of 2013. Stay tuned for our updates on the tour!