How far would you travel to see your favorite musician perform? How much would you be willing to pay?
When it comes to Armin van Buuren, I would do almost anything to see him live. Since falling in love with trance music three years ago, Armin has become my favorite musician. I’ve seen him in Amsterdam, Vancouver, B.C., Vegas, and some other fun cities. Seeing an Armin Only show though? That full concert get up? That has always eluded me. The tour, which kicked off last Summer, originally did not feature any North American stops; a crushing blow to myself, and the Pacific Northwest trance family. Then Insomniac, the minds behind EDC and Beyond Wonderland, to name a few, stepped in.
Pasquelle Rotella and company announced in November they were bringing Armin Only to Oakland and Los Angeles! Sure, those aren’t Pacific Northwest cities, but it was still West Coast, which is close enough for me. Heart jumping for joy, I pounced, buying a $100 ticket, a two night hotel stay and roundtrip airfare to the city of Angels. In all, more than $400 was spent on a 2 1/2 day trip. Best decision ever, as Armin Only: Embrace, L.A., turned out to be the best musical experience I’ve seen.
Things kicked off at 8 PM, an hour after the scheduled start time, with a cinematic welcoming salvo featuring jazz trumpeter Eric Vloeimans blowing huskily over rising tempos, a blue light shining down. A ballerina, clothed in a draping red dress, danced to his opposite, shrouded in a red light. Vloeimans swooned the ballerina by playing Embrace‘s title track, amongst other tunes, before exiting the stage- being replaced by a lone, hooded drummer.
The mysterious figure would slowly beat his drum, increasing his tempo as the crowd clapped along. Boom. Clap. Boom. Clap. Boom. As the beat grew faster, so did the ballerina’s movements. BoomBoomBoomBoom. The ballerina spun in circles at Armin’s DJ table, moving dazzlingly quick as the beat upped in tempo. Then the lights went black again.
At long last, guess who was standing in the ballerinas spot when the lights came back on? The godfather of trance, doing his signature spread arm pose. An act of magic almost that drove the crowd into a frenzy. Ten minutes into Armin Only and I already knew this night would be one to remember.