Armin van Buuren Embraces Pier Of Fear For Halloween [Live Review]
As one of the biggest party weekends of the year, New York City needed a man who knowns how to lead some of the best events in the world. Armin van Buuren was tabbed to Embrace the Pier Of Fear the night before Halloween alongside a few of his good friends, Khomha and Orjan Nilsen, before Skrillex and co. got spooky on Halloween proper.
Having been to the pier the weekend prior for Kaskade and his Automatic Tour, we were prepared for the scene that was about to unfold. Armin took over the same venue two nights before New Year's Eve, so he was quite familiar with the venue and the New York crowd that welcomes his so warmly each time.
Khomha set the table for Mr. van Buuren with a host of his own tracks and then easing into the headliner with some more progressive tunes like the hypnotic "Opus" from Eric Prydz.
After a short change over, Armin took the stage a little after midnight to clear shouts of "Armin, Armin, Armin."
With his new album Embrace only 24 hours old, fans would be among the first to see Armin perform most of the tracks from the LP. Like the album, Armin opened his set the orchestral and lengthy title track "Embrace" that features the cinematic trumpets of Dutch trumpet player Eric Vloeimans. This set the tone for the rest of the night as Armin put together another one of his bpm-increasing sets, starting out with high-energy, festival driven tracks and building to more traditional 136-138 bpm trance tracks.
After "Embrace," he launched into some of the big festival bangers that he uses for those peak time main stage sets like the Mark Sixma remix of "Another You," "Off The Hook" with Hardwell, his still unreleased collab with W&W and W&W's remix of Axwell /\ Ingrosso's "Sun Is Shining."
After nearly an hour of nearly all festival, electro-tinged trance, Armin launched into a medley of his own Embrace tracks like "Hands To Heaven," "Indestructible" and the quirky "Old Skool." One of the few times Armin picked up the mic, he professed his love for trance - a feeling more than a certain sound. "Trance is not a label, a sticker you put on music. It is something you feel from inside." At this point with only 45 minutes left, he turned up the bpms and the feels with more emotional trance tracks like Arisen Flame's "Fireball" with Calvin Harris "Outside" layered on top, his track with Jean-Michel Jarre "Stardust" and more.
The leader in trance normally is pretty vocal on the mic, but on this night he only picked it up once or twice to urge the crowd to show some more energy at a couple big moments in his set. He had his visuals at their best on Friday, triggering a new set of graphics for each new song on the fly. He had his Thalmic arm bands, occasionally activating them and taking control of a few spotlights and pointing them in the crowd with his arm movements.
He eventually gave way to the cheering crowd after an encore of "Strong Ones," from Embrace. Armin is no stranger to New York City, playing in the big apple once or twice a year, but he still manages to channel the magic that has cemented his spot as one of the very best in electronic music. It was a showcase of his new album that will net an Armin Only tour over the next two years and the Pier Of Fear was among the first to see it live.