It’s been well over a decade since I bought my first Armin Van Buuren album. Standing in a record store in London, England I found a double disc called “Armin Van Buuren 001: A State of Trance”. Of course back then the CD was filed under “Techno” as that was the blanket term of electronic music that has since been replaced by “EDM”.
Listening to it on my flight back to Philadelphia (on my disc man), I knew this guy was something special. Over the years I’ve had several chances to see Armin Van Buuren perform in person, both domestically and abroad, however, he had never played a gig in Philly.
Fast forward to 2013. Armin Van Buuren is announced to play at the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing (presented by Live Nation, Soundgarden Hall, and House of Hearts). The venue sells out its’ 7000 person capacity and the show builds a buzz unlike anything to hit the City in a long time.
The weather was perfect for an outdoor show on May 10th when the gates opened at 6pm. The venue was mostly empty at 7pm when the music began with an opening set by Antillas, but there was a large crowd of people outside of the Festival Pier and in the surrounding parking lots.
As if the front gates were flood gates, the opened up just before 8pm and the crowd size increased dramatically in a very short period of time. When Armin Van Buuren hit the stage just after 8pm, fans were primed and ready to go.
The crowd for the show was diverse to say the least. From young teenagers, to fans dressed in raver garb, to women in nightlife dresses and high-heels in the VIP, AVB had brought the trance fans out from far and wide.
Playing up to the crowd, Armin waved, pointed, and smiled at fans throughout the show. He struck many poses, his headphones held high above his head, and his arms outstretched, somewhat Jesus-like. Fitting, seeing that many of his fans consider him a trance God.
Cryo blasts, confetti canons, waves of lasers, and large digital video screens surrounded him from the front to the back of the stage, framing AVB dead-center. At one point he held up a custom Phillies jersey with “Van Buuren 138” on the back of it to the delight of the Philly faithful.
Not wanting to be outdone by the stellar light show on stage, Mother Nature showed up just before 1030pm with a display of her own. Bolts of lightning filled the sky over Philadelphia as droplets of rain began to fall. This forced the show to end 30 minutes before it’s intended ending time of 11pm. When Armin announced to the crowd that the show had to end, and he could only play one more song, you could feel the disappointment hanging in the air.
It then began to down pour as fans exited the Festival Pier, many of them heading across the street to Soundgarden Hall.
AVB wasn’t finished though, he had something left for fans in Philadelphia. Inside Soundgarden Hall, the official after party for the event was already under way. With Rank1 on the decks, Armin stepped in to surprise the sold-out crowd playing a B2B with the trance duo. (We will have full coverage of the after party including our interview with Tritonal who headlined the event coming soon).
After the reception he received from fans in Philadelphia, at which the humble #1 DJ in the world seemed, at times, in awe of,we have little doubt that Armin Van Buuren will return to our city to play again. However, last night, his first time in Philly, was special. You never forget your first.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
You can view an expanded photo gallery below (click thumbnails for enlarged slideshow):