It is about 7 pm in Miami, Florida and the world’s #1 voted DJ David Guetta is just about to jump off the decks for the night’s closing headliner of the final day of the world famous Ultra Music Festival; perhaps the most revered EDM festival in the world. After a crowd of thousands have been rocked by about an hour of the pop-hip hop-electro heavy sounds of Guetta and hours of other house juggernauts before him, the night’s closer was…a trance act? A couple of things could already seem a miss by the casual EDM concert goer who just happened to stroll in to Miami on this particular weekend. Seeing as how Ultra is a showcase of the who’s who in EDM, why would the #1 DJ in the world NOT be the headlining closing act? Why would the final artist of the night be a stylistically different sound of music than the previous acts throughout the day on the main stage? And if you’re this casual EDM concert goer, you may ask yourself “why should I stay to watch this?”. Well the answer is simple. This headlining artist is no ordinary DJ. It’s none other than the mighty Armin van Buuren.
Having been the DJ Mag’s #1 voted act four years in a row prior to David Guetta, Armin is nothing short of a household name to those in the know of electronic music, whether you like or dislike him. Now for those who are fans of trance, he is perhaps the biggest subject of debate. Love, hate, acclaim, and criticism all get thrown his way. In a way, very similar to David Guetta; another polarizing artist in his own right. But like Guetta, there is no doubt that the following that Armin van Buuren has is nothing short of pandemonium. Without the need of top 40 hits on the billboard chart, Armin has gained a legion of fiercely loyal fans over the years; the same ones that made him #1 for so long. It’s in this respect Ultra’s choice for the final act of the show actually makes sense. If you’re going to close one of the biggest festivals in the world, might as well do it with the man that can deliver the knock out blow like he has done so well in the past. Regardless of musical style, Armin van Buuren has reigned supreme as a king of not just trance, but EDM as a whole.
Which brings us now to that moment of taking the decks. After a quick little snap of a photo with Guetta, Afrojack, and his buddy Ferry Corsten, he jumps right into it. Those who were at the main stage all night may not have realized that this was actually his second set of the night, having already performed for an hour at the ASOT 550 arena of the festival. Stylistically, this second main stage set was very different from the ASOT set; and it had to be. Those tuning into the global broadcast of ASOT 550 and the live crowd present at the ASOT arena were already fans and followers of his (or the other trance acts on the lineup). Pretty much any song that was played at that stage had fans jumping with excitement singing along to the tunes they already knew and loved. The main stage crowd, after being rocked by hours of house from Kaskade, Fedde Le Grand, and Guetta himself, may not have been sold right away to the trance sound. Armin had to bring out the big guns and win the crowd over; and he certainly delivered.
Starting out with a bang, Armin started with a banger from his new A State Of Trance 2012 compilation: “The Fusion”. Aptly named, the combination of trance, progressive, and electro sounds was the perfect opening transition from David Guetta’s sound to his. The bass was heavy and the melodies were in full force with anthem after anthem of tracks new and old. Some stand out spots:
-Mr. Brightside (Marco V Treatment) was a good pick for the pop crowd. Definitely a track not to forget about for the DJ bag.
-W&W (MaRLo Remix) sounds HUGE with that big of a system. Wow! Not to mention that little break in the middle (Make Some Noise visuals) had a ridiculous buildup to the drop.
-Let me just say I totally marked out huge for Ferry Corsten coming on stage with Armin. Besides “Brute” being one of my favorite tracks lately, the drum edit that Armin has done makes it sound that much more epic live. The two legends and two of my favs on stage together was a rare moment that I’ll always remember even though I wasn’t there. Not to mention they looked like they were having a blast.
-In And Out Of Love is a song that will always be a staple for big Armin sets. No matter what remix, the crowd seems to love it.
Early on in the set, it was apparent the crowd was his. As the true professional that he is, Armin knew what crowd he was spinning to and he completely won them over. I personally knew people at the event that had no idea what they were in for with his set and left that night as fans of the sound. That was very special to hear. Track after track that kept the energy high and the thousands on their feet, it was obvious that Ultra had chosen the proper closer of the night. A testament to his love of EDM, you never really saw Armin stop smiling. There is no lie in the expressions that he had and the funnier was obvious he was having. Watching him makes it nearly impossible to not start getting as enthusiastic yourself. Of course with Ferry’s appearance, the set was that much more exclusive and personal. With the music, the atmosphere, the crowd, his own excitement, and the overall connection, he really made the stars align on this one to deliver a moment that will never be forgotten in Ultra Music Festival history.
It’s no secret that EDM has taken off in the USA. With festivals like Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival, moments like these are possible on US soil. Armin’s appearance was a true statement that EDM is global and brings people together. Aside from his legions of fans, artists of other genres admire him as well (why else would Afrojack and David Guetta want to take pictures and hang out with him). And why not? Success doesn’t come easy. Success comes with years of hard work, dedication, experimentation, and integrity to oneself and others. Armin van Buuren embodies all those qualities. I don’t think anyone else could have accomplished what he did this night and I’m sure many of his peers in electronic music would agree. You couldn’t have a better ambassador of trance to the masses than Armin van Buuren. He may not be technically #1 right at the moment, but he’s shown why he has been and always will be for trance fans. Don’t be surprised to see him at the top once again before it’s all said and done. Long live the king; AvB.
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