To those in the know, there are no words to describe Armin van Buuren. Titles, rankings, and headlines aside, there is no feeling more powerful than standing face to face with the man as he delivers the unparalleled artistry that are his live sets. If ever there was an epic way to begin a New Year it would be in the graces of the Dutch trance icon, and this year New York City was lucky enough to experience this feeling first handedly.
Pier 36 was set with all the makings to deliver a New Year's Eve to remember. Joonbug's production team partnered with the monstrous warehouse venue just off the Hudson River to create an environment that was well-suited for the evening's events. Tyler Sherritt, Steve Powers, Jerome Isma-AE and Jochen Miller comprised the lineup of support to surround Armin's four hour set, and brought with them a spread of diverse sounds and a varied fanbase to add to the dimension of the night.
The doors opened at 8pm, and Sherritt laid the soundtrack to the beginning of 2012's end. Fans donning their finest New Year’s apparel filtered from the streets of lower Manhattan into the venue, with the occasional Armin and ASOT shirts peppered throughout the crowd. Though the walk from the outdoor coat check to the venue's entrance was bitterly cold, once inside, the music and energy that filled Pier 36 was enough to make any fan forget instantly. From the VIP tables lining the back wall to the 360 bar ideally situated on the side of the venue, the energy was palpable throughout the mega complex. As the span of the venue filled with New York City's finest and the three-hour open bar fell into full swing, the clock ticked away the remaining minutes of the year. Spirits were high; the masses were ready.
The clock struck 11, and a notable shift in energy overtook the pier as Armin assumed position behind the decks. Eager, the crowd congregated towards the booth in anticipation of the following four hours. As the familiar whispers of Armin's summer single, "I'll Listen," swooped through the speakers, they were instantly reassured. Almost as if to indicate his intentions for the night, Armin was beaming as Ana Criado's vocals filled the room, showing the crowd that he was ready to listen, and feel out the crowd's vibe for the rest of the set.
The following hour flew by as a steady, melodic buildup to the imminent strike of midnight. Armin mixed light vocal tracks with heavier undertones as he blended together the works of trance icons from around the globe. The likes of all the usual ASOT suspects were well represented, and from every synth line to every lyric, fans couldn't help but sing along. W&W's "Moscow" was a crowd favorite, and kept everyone moving as Armin transitioned into the Dutch duo's remix of the Dash Berlin and Emma Hewitt vocal favorite, "Waiting." The mood was light but steady, energetic but refined; Armin knew was he was doing and retained this vibe in the dwindling minutes of the year.
As the clock ticked down to midnight, everyone know something special was in store. Armin gave the crowd a five minute warning, and under the layers of trancey overtones you could hear the makings of his electro bomb, "We Are Here to Make Some Noise," building with each second. Reflective words on the past year and future sentiments appeared on the screen, and were narrated in the voice made familiar through Armin's acclaimed weekly radio show. The crowd was captivated, reflective, and ready - and with a last few words they bid farewell to the year as they knew it. The countdown started at 20 and flew by briskly, culminating in an explosion of confetti, cheer, and a massive drop from the one of the top tunes of the year; Armin let the crowd know that they were all there to make some noise...and that they did.
2013’s first hours can only be described as epic - and not just because one of its opening songs was Sandro Silva and Quinto's appropriately titled track (masterfully mixed with Showtek & Justin Prime’s "Cannonball"). The hours that flew by were a perfect amalgamation of solid anthems layered with melodic, vocal favorites, all bound together by the technical fortitude of the world's number one DJ. Armin is no stranger to long sets, and - knowing he had a solid three hours left to guide the crowd through - he balanced his track selection perfectly. Twisting and turning through a track list that was both dynamic and steady, he eased out of the magnitude of the first hour of the new year, and guided the crowd through a selection of prime tunes, both contemporary and classic.
Reminiscent of his last New York appearance at Lavo's DJ Magazine party, Armin seemed to favor the likes of vocal, melodic classics that kept the crowd's energy vibrant and engaged. Of course, no set would be complete without Gareth Emery and Christina Novelli's ASOT-voted tune of the year, "Concrete Angel," whose chorus even came back again, mashed up with Armin's illegal drum edit of "Brute." Armin has a penchant for these types of callbacks, and did so throughout the night using a few songs to create this effect. Transitioning into "Suddenly Summer," the set had suddenly come full circle; this Armin original is the acclaimed predecessor to the evening's opening track, "I'll Listen." Some other major tracks also shined brightly throughout the four hour journey, including the Sneijder remix of Andain's "What It's Like," and the bomb that is Fisherman and Hawkins's, "Apache." There was not one minute of the evening that fans’ energy wavered, from the moment they collectively wished the west coast a happy new year, to the room jumping up and down as the closing mashup, "Every Language is a Waterfall," wound down the journey Trance Family had taken that night. With Armin as their tour guide, this comes as no surprise.
Listen to his entire set below from Pier 36 to relive the memories of New Year's Eve below.