The week between Christmas and New Years Day is one of the biggest party weeks of the year. Most people are off of work, or those who do have to work, things are pretty relaxed and expectations aren't as high for productivity. In that type of environment, Pacha and RPM Presents have been throwing parties all week at the club and on Pier 94 and Pier 36 in New York City with the likes of Armin van Buuren, Kaskade, Disclosure and Martin Garrix all coming to town. Last night saw trance titan, Armin van Buuren, known to fans as the god of trance, in part because of his stature within the genre and because his birthday is on Dec. 25, take the stage at Pier 94 with A State Of Trance regulars Andrew Rayel, Mark Sixma and Jochen Miller.
There was a packed schedule of trance from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and fans were in for a treat. Entering the massive approximate 10,000 person capacity warehouse space, one is struck by the high ceilings and the simple efficiency of the production. Set up for a New Year's Eve show with Disclosure, Claude vonStroke, Ten Walls, Dusky and others, the installations were an elegant Christmas theme, though the minimalism did not apply to the lighting, lasers and LED walls. These aspects of the production slowly kicked in as the night wore on, lighting up more parts of the LED walls and lighting rigs, while the laser fixtures firing from the front and back of the venue came to life to Armin van Buuren's set at midnight.
Mark Sixma kicked off the night at 9 p.m., just as doors opened, and played to slowly building crowd. Sixma has been a trendsetter for trance in 2014. His fast-paced melodies have been copied and mimicked by countless other artists looking to add something to their creative repertoire. He has been seen on numerous remix packages this year, including the A State Of Trance 650 anthem "New Horizons" originally by Jorn van Deynhoven, Armin van Buuren's "Save My Night" and Cosmic Gate's "Falling Back." Sixma used the opportunity to show off his discography, including his remix of Tiesto's legendary "Adagio For Strings," before capping off the set with a remix of Darude's revived "Sandstorm" that spun the crowd into a frenzy.
10:30 p.m came and went and with that meant the quick changeover to Dutchman, Jochen Miller who came out flying with the Stadiumx remix of Cash Cash's recent single "Surrender." Miller first rose to prominence with hard, driving trance tacks, but in recent years transitioned to a more anthemic, festival driven sound that has become popular among many new dance music fans, notably in America. That stylistic change was readily apparent with the tracks he selected from other DJs as well as the new productions he played from his own recent discography.
However, there was a small sense of restlessness towards the end of Jochen's set as the main event, Armin van Buuren's two-and-a-half hour set at midnight, was slowly approaching. Miller expertly toned back his song selection and gave van Buuren room to build his own set.
The clock stuck midnight and cheers of "Armin Armin" became deafening. The Dutch superstar stood on stage in his vintage Jesus pose bathed in white light as he did not miss a beat launching right into an onslaught of 132-134 bpm electro-tinged trance and festival designed cuts that elicited feverish reactions from the crowd with each crescendo. Van Buuren used the full two and half hours expertly, building up the beats per minute until around 1:30 a.m. the old school trance sounds of Photographer, Wach and Mark Sherry started to blast through the bass heavy speakers.
From 1:30 a.m. on, Armin did not let up, getting even more minimal and grimier; selecting tracks with harsh bass lines and relentless, driving melodies. Since he had the time, van Buuren capped off the set with his bootleg of "This Is What It Feels Like," bringing in the W&W remix for a festival friendly drop and imploring everyone from the front, to the VIP, to the back to jump when the track kicked in. It was the final hurrah in 2014 for a man who has become a staple of the New York dance music scene and has had many personal career milestones broached in the city.
Armin is one who is always looking forward and looking to innovate. 2014 saw him do that once again, partnering with Thalmic Labs to design a special armband that controls a part of his visuals with the movement of his arms. Songs like "Ping Pong" where he waves his arms back and forth to the build up really saw the ingenuity of the new technology.
For those trance warriors who were still up to it on a Monday night, Armin's protégé Andrew Rayel was up at 2:30 to close out the pier until 4 a.m. Rayel blended together tracks from his 2014 album, Find Your Harmony, with his own mashups and unreleased edits of popular progressive house tracks. For those who could stay to the end, it was a rare Monday night that only occurs during the holiday season. The production combined with the music made it another outstanding night on Pier 94 with Armin and his crew of artists.