Every so often there are those events that come along that come to define not just one of the hallmark events of a year, but a period in its music’s history, taking things to new heights where just a few years ago maybe none of us would have dreamed they would go. None other than Armin van Buuren and Armada perhaps, as this was an event seemingly years in the making. On this night , New York was once again New Amsterdam as Armin Van Buuren, New World Punx (Markus Schulz & Ferry Corsten), W&W and Alex M.O.R.P.H. descended on the World’s Most Famous Arena for the Expedition New York City.
When first entering the Garden, you couldn’t hell[ but be in awe of all the history there and fact that this wouldn’t be just be an audio streamed event but video as well, since the production was what you would come to expect from an ASOT event, it was shall I say, massive.
As the ASOT graphics and Jack’s voice introduced Alex M.O.R.P.H. to the stage, the magnitude of what was happening soon felt very real as Darth M.O.R.P.H. himself intro-ed with his own bootleg remix of always epic Star Wars Imperial March. Over the course of his set Alex warmed the crowd up expertly which must not have been easy for a man usually used to headlining I’m sure, yet he brought the crowd along on a nice chugging page who was happened to be just filling in, setting the stage for the huge wave of energy that was just around the corner and outro-ing nicely with “An Angel’s Love”
W&W made their presence known from the get go with “Lift Off” and started things off with a bang. Playing so many ASOT shows before this you would have thought it hard to keep their set fresh, yet they did with just that. With banger after banger that we all know and love Willem and Wardt for. One of the most unexpected things so followed however when 3/4 into their set when suddenly the main speakers shut down right on “D-Fat”. The crowd was dumbstruck. The only thing we could all hear were the speakers in the very back playing ever so faintly. Compared to those listening around the world the crowd wasn’t exactly made clear of the situation, yet what was clear was that no one was going home. During the ever so faint “Invasion” anthem, the crowd was even still singing along to what we could barely hear. What happened next is hard to put into words exactly but when the signal was restored , at a moment of a drop none of us could have expected 15 minutes later, pure insanity ensued with a moment I will always remember as the party was back underway and Madison Square Garden seemed to shake with everyone on their feet, going crazier than I have ever had the honor to bear witness. W&W clearly were gutted by what happened but being the true professionals that they were, closed their set amazingly turning what had the potential to be a disaster into something truly extraordinary.
Next up were the New World Punx concept of Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten. With another insane intro, they entered illuminated one at a time on the stage to the famous sample of “Warriors come out to play!” from the classic cult film The Warriors. What was clear right away was that this wasn’t just Ferry and Markus B2B, this was whole new sound! It was almost as if some new form of dark-energetic Trance was being born at this very moment with at least one New World Punx production “Romper” and a few Markus-Ferry mashups to boot. One could even make the argument for New World Punx to be one of the biggest duos created of all time with the star power both Markus and Ferry possess. It was literally everything you would have wanted from a Markus set, a Ferry set and then something totally mind-blowing you would have never have expected. Markus even debuted a new Khomha record. There were ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys and anthemic vocals from both artists. “Tempted” , “Not Coming Down, “Live Forever” and “Nothing Without Me” .
After New World Punx the finale was upon us and the moment had arrived. The legendary #1 DJ in the world Armin Van Buuren was primed to take the stage. Amazing intros seemed to be one of the constants for this event as Armin Van Buuren came to stage as epic as he is always known for. Arms stretched out to either side illuminated in the dark, he entered to the iconic “Adagio For Strings”. It was almost as if Armin had been waiting for this exact moment his entire life in the very arena and you could tell by the way he seemed to take in this very moment for all it was worth before engaging the crowd. Working as hard as he has, frankly he deserved it. From Adagio, Armin beckoned the crowd to get ready as he dropped an extremely energetic, electro sounding ID he has been playing in all his recent sets mashuped up with “Waiting For The Night”, for what made for one of my personal favorites this year. The energy ensued next with Andrew Rayel’s remix of Zedd’s “Clarity” and Armin’s own remix of Zedd’s “Spectrum,” both moments that had almost every voice in unison. With so much energy preceding his own performance, Armin definitely kept it coming, with so many amazing records we have come to know and love this year already, the likes of “The Expedition Anthem,” Gaia “Humming The Lights,” Marlo’s “Boom” and more. As far as more mashups Armin also played “Not Giving Up On Love,” with Solarstone’s “Third Earth” (Heatbeat Remix), Photographer’s “Airport” vs “Shivers” and Gareth Emery’s “Concrete Angel” vs “Brute”. It was Armin at his finest in a moment that truly seemed iconic. For an encore Armin even brought out vocalist Trevor Guthrie out for a live performance of “This Is What It Feels Like.”
There is always something truly special about all A State of Trance events, yet the significance of an ASOT at Madison Square Garden was a statement. A statement that Electronic Dance Music and Trance has arrived and is here to stay the US and is just getting started. ASOT 600 NYC in Madison Square Garden will truly go down as one of the moments where many of us look back in awe and marvel at just how far things have come and still getting bigger and we very much have Armin and Co to thank.
Pictures courtesy of Doug Van Sant Photography