Amsterdam Dance event is the showcase for all the biggest names and events in all genres of dance and electronic music. A State of Trance is the most well-known brand for trance events and naturally, the most listened trance radio show. That is why, the synergy of combining these two massive powerhouses had created a big hype and expectation in most of the trance fans, but also raised the hopes of the fans to a point where it was hard to deliver. Disaster or success? Let’s see how that night went!
This year’s ADE was especially relevant for trance music in many aspects. Not only the ‘classic’ events took place, but also new and enormous gigs were added to the schedule, in a fashion that lets us imagine them established for the years to come. Personally, I was a little hesitant at the beginning, since there were so many events overlapping, I had other compromises too and during last year’s edition, it had been rather complicated to balance everyday life with all these events (and back then, the offer was smaller).
This year, ASOT decided to bet good and bet strong. A 14-hour broadcast from which the last 6 hours would be live from AFAS (a place that many habitues may have known as Heineken Music Hall before, in Amsterdam Southeast, close to the Ajax’s Johann Cruyff Arena) and uniting a massive line up, which in the live event was going to include Protoculture, Cosmic Gate, Armin van Buuren, Aly & Fila and closing with Ben Gold b2b Standerwick.
To be honest, I consider myself a fan of all of them even when they have different styles. By the time the line-up was announced, I was itching to go, and thankfully we, Trance Energy Radio, were honored to form part of this event‘s broadcast, in our very own station, the whole day of celebrations for ASOT 836: ADE SPECIAL.
ASOT 836: 14h of music, and more!
A State of Trance counted with a strong advantage among all the events in ADE. Not only because of the structure and infrastructure that is behind the flawless organization that ALDA Events always delivers, but also because their name and their marketing strategies are difficult to beat. Many trance fans might find this questionable, but I’d say that if you have the resources it’s fair play to put them on the table.
The broadcast started early on Thursday, with massive sets by Radion6, Tenishia, Andrew Rayel, John Askew, Gabriel & Dresden, Alpha 9 (Arty), Will Atkinson and Pure NRG among others. The selection of DJs was diverse and interesting, trying to reach as many trance lovers as possible, from the progressive sounding to the uplifting, passing through the classics and the psy-influenced ones.
The live broadcast addressed many questions, such as the first artists that will be joining ASOT 850 to take place in Utrecht in 2018, or the first country where the festival will land after. It was peculiar to see how the 14-hour broadcast gave place to the ‘normal’ ASOT weekly show to later continue with the broadcast of the event in AFAS. Certainly an interesting decision, among others that night.
The event: live from AFAS
Both Katrina and I attended the event as representatives of the radio. I was there just a few minutes after the beginning of Protoculture’s set. As I always do, I took a few first minutes to review the venue and the infrastructure besides the music in itself. AFAS is a great location, it looks good, it’s large, new and feels easy to navigate. As for the staff, all of them were very friendly and helpful which is a lot to say, since in larger venues it’s difficult to feel properly welcome. Chapeau for ALDA on the organization of this event!
I had seen Protoculture at least twice in the past, and in my opinion, he always meets the expectations or goes slightly beyond. His warm-up set was growing from a musical warm up to an emotional experience. It felt that to some extent it was too good to be just the opening of the night, especially because the venue was still at 25% of its capacity. That was probably the cause why the sound felt a little over the top, and I heard it loud even while wearing my earbuds.
With tracks like “In the Dark” by Tiesto ft. Christian Burns or mashups like Protoculture vs. Above & Beyond ft. Zoë Johnston – “You Gotta Descent”, set the mood at the right level for what was next to come. It was certainly unexpected to hear the angelic voice of Belinda Carlisle during his set, but for an 80s aficionado like me, it was a plus and very happy choice.
Into the Cosmic Gate
With the spirits engaged, Protoculture gave room to Cosmic Gate. The German duo was in for the win and started their set with “Materia”, a track that features the legendary voice of JES. However, the intro mix was a little too soft and killed the mood for a bit. I was in need of uplifting sounds, that seemed to be coming constantly, but never arriving.
Cosmic Gate has evolved and their sound nowadays has more pounding beats and a more predictable structure than before. Long gone are the days of “Fire Wire” and “Exploration of Space”. In any case, tracks like “Noom” -the new collaboration with Super8 & Tab- are memorable and easily identifiable as the new Cosmic Gate sound.
For me, the real beginning of the set was when they played their third track, “My Own Hymn” by Above & Beyond. People were ecstatic, and I’ll include myself among those who almost cried when the ethereal voice of Zoe Johnston flowed through a room that was now getting fuller and fuller.
Vocal tracks kept dropping, including “Bigger Than We Are” featuring the multi-talented Eric Lumiere and “Fall Into You” featuring JES yet again. Naturally, it was not all about the vocals since “am2pm” and “Dynamic” (a recent collaboration with Ferry Corsten) also had their rightful place in the set. I must admit that Nic and Bossi seemed to be having lots of fun with their own music, and that is usually transmitted to the crowd.
Ups and downs, euphoria and deeper emotions succeeded one another all along the set. However, at some point, it seemed that the emotional bond with the crowd was somehow damaged since the people starting to grow increasingly steady and to chill more than dance. I would put the blame on the rush that “Tonight” featuring Emma Hewitt caused, followed by good tracks but that seemed to arrive at the wrong moment. It can even be said that the set wasn’t completely cohesive, and that might have set the crowd to drift away from the moment.
Do we want to ‘be in the moment’?
Everything changed when Armin took over the decks. The room was now full, and Armin’s set started full of energy, creating a high expectation of the next two hours to come. For everyone, it was an amazing joy to attend to the premiere of the anthem for ASOT 850, an event that will be under the title “Be In The Moment” and from which the anthem took it’s very own name.
“Be In The Moment” it’s certainly a follow up to “I Live For That Energy” and meets all requirements for becoming a future classic in all its glory. The track sounds like a fusion of all the styles that Armin has been exploring during his trajectory, with a conductor thread which is strong and pounding bassline clearly psy-trance influenced.
After that moment of revelation, it was the time for the new classics like “Heading Up High” and “I Need You”, which in the First State Remix and the Club Mix respectively, gave a more dancey vibe than a bold trance line as it seemed to be announced by the first track. Every Armin fan was singing along both tracks, and in my case, I was absolutely into it.
Still, the core of the set was yet to come. At a glance, it seemed to be a succession of different styles and rhythms, different influences and genres, all mixed up. Some of the picks might come across as debatable such as “Heads Will Roll” remixed by David Gravell or the replay of “Tonight” by Cosmic Gate ft. Emma Hewitt, however, I’m almost certain that there was an intentionality behind those picks.
As for the rest of tracks, it was difficult to follow and foresee where the set was going to lead next. It was fun, for sure, to be engaged in that rollercoaster. I know I can’t make justice to all the tracks that he played, but just to mention some, we had the chance to hear Markus Schulz’s tribute remix of Linkin Park’s “In The End”, “Empire of Hearts” and “Saint Vitus” by Gaia, classics like “Communication” and “Lethal Industry”, “Sunny Days” by AvB himself, and “Sorry” by Kensington in the AvB remix. There was also room for Vini Vici and Eric Prydz too.
This can be a pro or a con depending on who’s listening. The die-hard Armin fans will support everything without criticisms, and the trance purists, let’s face it, were probably crying in a corner. In any case, it would be interesting to have some insights about the process of mixing this set -as well as the many of his latest sets-, and we will do our best to bring more answers to all these questions. Stay tuned!
Right after Armin finished his set, it was time for Fadi to bring all that Aly & Fila magic that has taken our hearts as hostages for many of the last years. If you hadn’t cried a single tear until now, Fadi was going to push you to tears like he always does with his magnificent sets.
Aly & Fila
I was starting to feel exhausted since I had woken up around 5 to go to work that same day, but even if I tried to go chill outside the main room, Fadi has that power that makes you bring back the energy that you keep somewhere hidden and dance like there’s no tomorrow, giving it all, heart and soul.
The set started with “Concorde”, the new collaboration with Ferry Tayle, a track that certainly sounds out-of-this-world, and connects you with emotions you didn’t even know you had. At this point, the crowd’s hearts were beating all as one, and it was a very euphoric and uplifting moment, just like A State of Trance always promised to deliver.
Following that lovely start, as usual in Fadi’s sets, there were quite a few IDs together with classics like “As The Rush Comes” and tracks from Aly & Fila’s repertoire like “Surrender” featuring the gifted Sue McLaren and “Beyond the lights”, an all-time favorite for me.
The whole set was wonderfully mixed, blending the tracks like only Fadi can do, and it was above all, a musical journey, keeping the energy high and the emotions just skin deep. In a few words, I’d describe it as: “Memorable, as always”.
Towards the end, a surprise
By 3 AM, Aly & Fila had to leave the decks for a back-to-back set that I was especially eager to attend. I think that Standerwick and Ben Gold are among the most talented trance producers that we have these days. They have their personal styles, they can collaborate with other artists and still, they’re always loyal to their sound and above all, to trance music and the trance fans.
As it was logical, the set started with Ben Gold blasting his exquisite “I’m in a A State of Trance”, the anthem he produced for ASOT 750 that still sounds powerful and fresh. What a tune. Every time I listen to it I can’t stop but jumping and goosebumps invade my whole skin.
Standerwik b2b Ben Gold
The set was sublime. It had some very understandable choices, like “Vindicta”, the collaboration between the two producers who were playing, “Sun and Moon” and “Reckless”, for all those eager-to-sing fans who still had energy by then to scream their lungs out.
There were also interesting tracks, that many of us could describe as a surprise, like “Nowhere to Go”, by W&W featuring Bree… A track that dates back to 2011 from the ‘Impact’ album by the Dutch duo, when they used to be considered the future of the trance sound. It came as an ID Remix, and for me, a former W&W fan it was a moment to reconnect with those early days when I started following ASOT religiously on a weekly basis.
It was no surprise though, the presence of many tracks by Gareth Emery, a good friend and collaborator with both Ben Gold and Standerwick. Tracks like “Until We Meet Again” by Emery and Gold made its way into the set… and it was going to be a track by Gareth Emery and Standerwick that would introduce the greatest surprise of the night.
Just after playing the wonderful “All or Nothing” by Ben Gold featuring Christina Novelli, Ian Standerwick introduced a very special guest: HALIENE.
She started with a very trembling and nervous intonation but winning power as the track progressed. What a track! Can anyone want anything else from a night like this that to hear this angel singing such a gorgeous track? I personally can’t think of a better way to round up an amazing night.
HALIENE performed and probably positioned herself as one of the future classic voices of the trance scene. I hope to hear more from her for the years to come.
And the end arrived. 4 AM and everybody leaving the venue. A cold night in Amsterdam and a lot of new memories to last. We’ll see you next time, said Ben Gold. ASOT, see you in February in Utrecht, since we will be in that moment!