The pandemic is (almost) gone, trance lives on!
Written by Luciano Medica on October 21, 2021
And then, the world returned to the dancefloor. After almost two years where we were ripped away from the music scene that makes us feel alive and connected with our fellow music lovers, we were able to be there and enjoy A State of Trance ADE Special… And it definitely was SPECIAL!
I don’t think there’s a need to recap all that we have lived since the pandemic was declared. I am pretty sure all of us, the trance family, have felt that it took something precious away from us. In time, some of us got to the point where the longing to be in a festival or a rave, with our favorite DJs playing, with our friends and everyone else, jumping, singing along, dancing like there’s no tomorrow… had turned into a numb feeling, a silent scream where we didn’t know if and when things were going to come back to what they were.
Don’t get me wrong: we’re not there yet. Things are almost like they were before March 2020 and it will take some more time to finally leave all this pandemic gloom behind. But hell yeah, it felt rewarding to go back to a mass event, being surrounded by a crowd, doing everything that had been advised to avoid for so long. It just felt like we won this fight, and COVID can finally f-off.
ACT 1: WHAT A COMEBACK
At first I was a little worried that this event was not going to feel like the good old days. I was worried whether being far from the dancefloor for so long was going to make being in a tight crowd a negative experience. To be fair, I didn’t know what to expect anymore. I felt that I had grown apart and that everything was just a memory.
Like Armin said, they expected to turn the world into a dancefloor but they ended up celebrating episode 1000 of A State of Trance from a small studio in Amsterdam. Perhaps that was everything we could expect for the foreseeable future.
I was wrong. As soon as we entered the venue, it was like something that had been dormant inside of me was reactivated. I felt alive, probably more alive than in any of the previous months. The crowd felt just like before, or even better, because suddenly I realized I had missed it more than I have given it credit for.
Start hard, continue harder
We got inside by the time M6/Mark Sixma was starting (Sorry Reuben, you were fantastic too). The set started with energy through the roof, first started with his own Aqua, and then his remix to the now classic Nothing at All by Rex Mundi and Susana. Every time I hear Susana’s voice, it connects me to my first Armin Only in Buenos Aires back in 2010 and it immediately gave me goosebumps!
At this stage, AFAS was getting almost full. So many people, so close together, a well-known yet completely new experience.
M6 was setting the bar quite high as the tracks went by, and each time we thought we had reached the peak, he dropped another track that blew our minds further. He served us everything we could have hoped for: Elemental, his collaboration with Avao, the hard-hitting Crash -which is a collaboration with Reorder-, the magic Jorn van Deynhoven remix of Missing in the beautiful voice of Emma Hewitt and his freshly released track Pantheon, a magnificent track he birthed alongside Orjan Nilsen.
What. A. Set. I was overwhelmed with emotion, I was ecstatic and ready for everything that was yet to come. Mark Sixma had an hour and he used every minute in the best way possible, taking his revenge from all the time he could not play for us, and we are glad he did so.
ACT 2: THE KING IS BACK
Picking up from the high note where M6 left us, we were all expecting what kind of Armin we were going to encounter. Was it going to be the one pushing the boundaries of trance or the one who plays what the people want to hear? Were there going to be any live performances? IDs and other new music? Everything was yet to be said, but we were living for it.
As soon as Armin van Buuren was announced, you could hear the crowd beating. The introduction helped to build up but no one was prepared for the energy that was about to be unleashed. Everlast by Rub!k let us know that we were attending the big comeback, such a powerful track, so much energy and we were just beginning!
Surprisingly, we got a dose of Bigtopo right off the bat, with Back & Forth and Maria. You know that when the Spanish’s tracks are on, this is all about the energy and the power. The crowd was wild, and it really felt like we were all dancing to compensate for all those months we were not allowed to.
…All I need is your love tonight… Once Armin announced that we were all going to need some love tonight, and the track started playing, we were all ready to sing along to those lyrics. Every time I looked around, and I saw the people hugging each other, dancing together, having fun, it felt like my soul was being brought back to life.
A journey -back- into trance
A little banger here, a little more uplifting there, Armin’s set was a ride and as we progressed through the set, we were delighted with La Résistance De L’Amour and then Magico, the amazing collaboration with Giuseppe Ottaviani.
The time came to turn the world into a dancefloor, and Armin had decided to precisely do so. All bangers, all songs that the crowd received like a blessing. I must confess I did tear up when he mentioned that in 2020 we couldn’t celebrate together. That was the moment I realized that we had made it past the pandemic, the restrictions, and we were going to celebrate for many years to come.
With the arrival of Avalan to the stage, the emotional tone was set. Should I wait? is such a special song, because it was released during last year’s lockdown in the Netherlands, and the lyrics are just what’s needed to have an emotional moment. Add a live performance and you have the archetypical Armin Only set up that we know and love.
In the same fashion as that Armin Only moment, you know things can change very quickly, and when the very first beats of Mr. Navigator went on, the crowd exploded. We were all singing along, and we were all beating and expecting the drop. Welcome back Mr. Navigator, felt like a welcome message addressed to all of us.
As a final highlight in an amazing set, Armin surprised us (did he really surprise us, though?) with the amazing presence of Susana to sing live ‘Home with you’. It is always a pleasure, it is truly everything, to have Susana perform live, it doesn’t matter when. This time, however, it was special, and it was particularly touching. She sang ‘I am home with you’ and we felt the same way there, with everyone else, with Armin, with her.
ACT 3: BLOW THE HOUSE UP
When Vini Vici arrives, you always know things are about to take a crazy turn, and that’s a good thing.
As soon as they joined Armin for the brief B2B set, the crowd started singing along to Great Spirit [Armin van Buuren vs. Vini Vici ft. Hilight Tribe] and the energy in the room went up even further. People were jumping and dancing and smiling as they followed the rhythm with their hands. What a great moment to be there!
Then, we got introduced to their brand new collaboration after Great Spirit and United, Yama. The track has African sounds provided by Tribal Dance & Natalie Wamba, which swiftly turns into a bomb, which has a familiar sound if you think about Great Spirit, but all in all, it’s a darker and deeper psy track.
After releasing Yama, Armin left, and now it was time for Vini Vici to blow the house up like they always do!
A set full of surprises
They started with a System F track and quickly followed up with Rapture by iiO ft. Nadia Ali, a track that everyone would recognize as a landmark in the dance and trance music scene. To some extent, it sounded like a tame version of Vini Vici, or was it?
Clearly not. Right after rapture they dropped Chakra, the banger they produce with W&W and that hits as hard as it gets. The beats and the vocals guide you into that state of excitement and deep connection with the music, as if it guides your movement rather than your mind, which is basically a state of psy-trance!
Every moment of their set was a blast, but probably the crowd was most engaged when the hypnotic and wild Untz Untz came to play. The rhythmic movements of the crowd made it seem like some sort of tribal initiation, a higher connection, a brotherhood restored. “Are you ready to go harder?” YES PLEASE!
We moved on to hearing As The Rush Comes remixed by WHITENO1SE and then Gigi D’Agostino – Bla Bla Bla, the Vini Vici Remix. There was nothing heavenly about this set. It was hard, it was raw and Vini Vici was here to slap it on your face in case you forgot.
As the set went on, we had a great surprise that also ties in with this feeling of being reborn into trance, the connection I felt with my very early days. As Sun & Moon (Blastoyz remix) by Above & Beyond played, I felt some sense of relief, like this was the place I was meant to be. It was clear that everyone was happy like before, but even happier because we reclaimed something that was always ours, and it had been taken away from us.
A fun note was when the Israeli duo played their mashup of the Circle Of Life vs. Tambores, as it makes sense for their musical style and their tracks but also the Circle of Life connects with our childhoods and with innocent days, which are very far away from the ‘naughty’ and wild sounds of psytrance.
As the set was closing, the pace seemed to go faster, and all the trance lovers could feel that the faster it got meant that the end was getting nearer…
At midnight the show ended, and it felt like it should have continued for much longer. It is always nice that events during ADE end relatively early, but this time it felt just like when you meet a friend after a long time apart, there’s so much to catch up on, and so little time…
The night went smoothly, and the organization was on point. The access was quick, the space was well managed and I felt that everything was just as it was supposed to be, as it used to be. Big shout out to ALDA for making this event possible with their world-class quality, every-single-time.
In the end, all I can say is that I’m glad we’re back and even after all we’ve been through with the pandemic. Trance and the trance family live on and we’re here to enjoy every single moment of it as if the world is going to end!
See you next February in Utrecht!