Wow. That would best describe Saturday night. The music, the sets, the people, the lineup, the hype, the everything was beautiful. As a member of the trance family since my early teens, I was extremely proud and happy and honored to be part of the 600th episode celebration of A State of Trance.
Today, with House music and its derivatives conquering the EDM world, it’s hard to reconnect with the beautiful, good-old, almost-spiritual Trance music that defined so many parts of my life growing up, and still does. Tough times, good times, awesome relationships, tough breakups, the ups and downs that music by titans like Armin van Buuren and Paul Van Dyk and Above and Beyond became the soundtrack to. The songs you listen to and get goosebumps all over your body and a numbness that starts at the base of your neck and radiates up to your skull and face and puts you in a real, state of trance.
Even Trance itself today has become slower, more House-like or Dubstep-like to sell more and appeal to today’s clubbing culture. Trance gets a bad rep from today’s clubbing aficionados and people might think twice before adding a classic like For An Angel or Shivers to their playlists in the car. ASOT 600 though, was a big fat protest to that and a resounding message from millions of people that make up the Trance Family all around the globe, that Trance is awesome, Trance is what we grew up listening to and it ain’t going nowhere.
Perhaps the biggest testament to this back-to-the-roots movement was Armin’s t-shirt that read “Who’s Afraid of 138?”. For the less-hardcore EDM fans, electronic music is defined by it’s beats per minute. House is usually somewhere between 123-128 bpm, Trance is usually 135-140 bpm, Psy-Trance is north of 140, etc. Trance has been becoming slower in recent years, closer to the House bpm range, and Armin as well as the full ASOT 600 Beirut’s DJ lineup, made sure the uplifting, 138 was back and celebrated hard!
Classics like As The Rush Comes, Lethal Industry, Shivers and relatively newer-but-not-so-new classics like Till the Sky Falls Down, Sun and Moon, Tuvan, Man on the Run were some of the highlights of the sets. Each DJ created a beautiful, non-partisan melange of sweet nostalgic tracks, coupled with new, some even never-before-heard tracks that Armin generously graced the ASOT 600 Beirut crowd’s ears with. It was magnificent.
Antillas, Andrew Rayel, Dash Berlin, Armin, John O’Callaghan and MaRLo all shined bright with their sets ranging between 1 to 2 hours. An awesome surprise was Armin’s 1-hour warm-up set before the show began, which a few thousand lucky fans who came early got to witness and I am utterly jealous of! Another really awesome touch was Andrew Rayel’s inclusion of “Ya Hawa Beirut” in his Expedition Intro remix, just for us! (I’ve embedded his set at the bottom, give it a listen and relive the amazing moments of that night).
The “giant container” Armin dubbed Forum as was also the biggest set-up I’ve seen there, since all of it was used when usually it’s just a compartment or two. VIP areas flanked the sides, with the VVIP sections in front of them, sandwiching the main arena section. I spent most of my night in the Golden Circle are just in front of the Main Arena right at the stage’s foot.
As for how many people were there, according to MixFM, 3000 people showed up from abroad, and I saw flags from Australia, Italy, Germany, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iran and of course several Lebanese flags, one of which Armin carried and waved and wrapped around his neck during his set, like he always does honoring his legion of Lebanese fans. It was beautiful. Flags of nations that might not necessarily be friends, raised side-by-side, by people brought together by love for the music and each other. We often forget that people in other countries are like us. They’re normal people, who love music, who love life, who love to have fun and Trance music has the power to create that global family feeling that I must confess, was the first time I feel at an event, live. I don’t know the exact number, but I am fairly certain it’s way above the 15,000 mark (just checked, official number is 20,000+ according to MixFM!) 25 million people tuned in live from across the world, and Armin did a Google+ Hangout with several of them live on the big screen from all over the world, which was also extremely touching.
All in all, it was absolutely spectacular. I’ve been to hundreds if not thousands of hours of raves and stadium events like this. This, was by-far, the funnest, most fluid, most-touching one where the hours flew by like minutes. No hiccups, all the sets were amazing, there was a perfect balance of old classics and new soon-to-be-classics. There was enough exits and bars to accommodate everyone, even though parkings were full by 11:00PM! The interaction between the DJs and the fans was also amazing, with banners held by many, like my dear Nour’s “A State of Beirut” which Armin saw and waved at us for! Dash Berlin’s green ASOT heart and “Ashkorakom” on his iPad marquee. The thousands of heart-shaped hands that shot up from the crowd and answered dutifully by the DJs. All in all, tears of joy were in fact shed, and my gas-mask did hide most of them.
It was amazing seeing all of you there, and meeting some of you for the first time live. Nour, Madeleine, Bebe, Lori, Liliane, Jim, Haig, AbdulRahman, Jow, Najib, Justine, Elle, Rita, Joelle, Omar and everyone else, you’re all awesome! I had a blast with all of you throughout the night.
On Sunday night, I went through the #ASOT600BEI feed on Instagram and found a few cool photos fellow trance family members had uploaded I thought you guys might find awesome/hilarious/touching!
Here are over a 100 photos I snapped. Sorry for the poor quality of some, but I couldn’t stop moving long enough to take proper ones sometimes =P
Andrew Rayel’s set for ASOT 600 Beirut with the “Ya Hawa Beirut”
Dash Berlin’s Set
AND THIS is the first track from Armin’s new Intense album. We were the first to hear it, from this new album!