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A Tale of Two Armins: Armin Van Buuren at EDC NY (review)

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It’s true that to most of us the addition of a third day for EDC NY seemed like an afterthought — an entire stage had been eliminated from the lineup and the addition of Armin Van Buuren as the closer felt forced. We asked ourselves “Wouldn’t two closing sets cheapen the Armin experience?” The answer after two days at EDC NY is a resounding “HELL NO!” Armin Van Buuren is the world’s biggest DJ for a reason — he is one of the few left whose sets are true artistry. He masterfully mixes tracks to create an atmosphere rather than a party, taking listeners on a journey with peaks and valleys and highs and lows. While many popular artists play nearly identical sets at every big festival, Armin’s is always a surprise.

Armin Van Buuren at Kinetic Field, 5/18/2012

When we arrived at the venue at 5pm, there was a distinct sense of dread hanging in the air. The parking lots surrounding the stadium were vacant, small pockets of people waited in line as security searched their bags and neon fanny packs. Thankfully as the day went on the crowd grew and by the time that Armin appeared behind the decks of Kinetic Field the venue had transformed from a ghost town into a full blown festival.


Understanding that those in the crowd on Friday were likely not devout ASOT fans, Armin played a much heavier set, one designed for the mainstage at the inaugural launch of EDC NY.  Opening with “We Are Here to Make Some Noise,” he set the tone for the rest of the evening.  The entire set ebbed and flowed from the energetic highs created by tracks such as Orjan Nilson’s “Magic” to the mellow lows of Christina Novelli’s sinewy vocals on “Concrete Angel.”

Throughout his set, Armin kept the energy high and as the familiar progression of drum-heavy remix of  “Brute” echoed through the speakers and off the walls of MetLife Stadium, Armin sprung to the top of the decks launching the crowd into a frenzy.  Before closing his set with his mash up of “Burned with Desire” and “Ride the Wave,” Armin grabbed the mic to thank the crowd, but instead of his voice, a shocking screech of feedback blast through the speakers, a slight hiccup in an otherwise perfect performance.

Armin Van Buuren at Circuit Grounds, 5/19/2012
A State of Trance Tent

The second day of EDC NY presented a much different scene, an endless swathe of neon clad bodies invaded MetLife Stadium for the more trance and progressive oriented day of the festival.  Every stage was bursting at the seams with people, but none more devoted than those at the A State of Trance stage at the Circuit Grounds.

Following ATB closing with Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” (which was EPIC), Armin began his second set of the weekend with the stuttering vocals of “The Fusion” followed by Norin & Rad’s heavy rendition of “Suddenly Summer.” As we watched the crowd’s reaction it was glaringly obvious that this group was much different than the night before. The energy different and the Circuit Grounds tent-like atmosphere – with it’s illuminated ceiling – only served to enhance the atmosphere.

As the trance heavy set progressed, we were pleasantly surprised that it was distinctly different from Friday’s closer. This one was for the Armin purists.  In fact, the only two tracks that appeared in the two distinctly different sets was “We are Here to Make Some Noise” and Stoneface & Terminal’s remix of “Beat By Beat” mashed with “Coming Home.”  Given the incredible power it has over a crowd, who can blame him? Both nights Skylar Grey’s vocals consumed the crowd and drove the energy through the roof.

Armin began to bring the energy down with Syliva Tosun’s vocal edit of “Angel’s Voice” before closing out the night with his “In and Out of Raw Deal” mash up. The packed crowd jumped in unison as the bright blue lights bounced around the tent and off their faces. With both hands high in the air, Armin signed off and shut down the tent and the second day of EDC NY.

After two sets in two days with two completely different atmospheres, the truth cannot be denied – too much Armin Van Buuren is still not enough.

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