There have been many depictions of the concept of a God, but Saturday night I think I finally saw the most accurate one when Armin van Buuren took the stage at the Armory. The Balance Tour’s visit to downtown Minneapolis was something for the history books, and is arguably (objectively) the best show I’ve ever been to. Joined by a series of spectacular openers and with a set that kept us up until after two in the morning, if you weren’t one of the 7000+ of us raging on Saturday night – quite simply – I am sorry. So, where better to begin than with the openers?
It isn’t too uncommon to fall in love WITH opening acts – but it is uncommon to see love IN opening acts. Yes, alongside his opening set, DJ Joe the Ripper proposed on stage to his significant other. It’s one thing to open a show for a power such as Buuren, but to have that memory tied to the night as well? Wow. Joe the Ripper went on to wow us with his mixing and pulsing beats and was shortly followed up by JTandT. If one awesome couple wasn’t enough, JTandT is the awesome relationship-driven duo of DJ Jack Trash and saxophonist Tyler Allix. We all love a good sax solo – but sax solos AND bass drops was something I was new to and now believe the whole world needs to experience at least once. Capping off the collection of openers was Ruben de Ronde, who was now playing to what was reportedly over 8,400 people total – a sold out show. The Dutch DJ and producer was an exceptional creator of sound, and was able to get the crowd of thousands amped up and ready to go for what I don’t think anyone was ready for – absolute tranceful bliss.
Armin van Buuren came out ten minutes or so earlier than the crowd and media was expecting – we are still wondering if it was the fact that the sold-out crowd was too much to keep waiting, or if he was as excited as we were. Writers and photographers alike were scrambling to get shots and notes jotted down as Armin took to the stage with an absolute bang. Only after a song or two, the entire venue was shaking – even those in the seated booths above the crowd were up and dancing by the time Armin asked us to show him love and cupped his hands over his head. “Show Me Love” was just one moment to point at, but this was just the beginning. The beach-ball-bopping, neon-hoola-hooping, glow-stick crazed crowd was blessed with a myriad of van Buuren’s hits such as “Blah Blah Blah” and “This is What it Feels Like” before the night was over.
I will never forget texting one of my friends about 5 minutes into the set: “I feel like I am seeing God for the first time.” Behind Armin was a stage setup that created a large “A” around him in lights – nothing complicated or distracting, almost to leave the audience with the sole task of focusing on the music and lasers dancing around us. With a sense of confidence and a killer smile that I will never forget, Armin managed to captivate every set of eyes and ears in the place for over two hours of trance and electronic glory that hit the ears like sweet candy hits the tongue.
Sometimes I leave a show and have a story that has nothing to do with the music itself, sometimes my story simply IS the music – but this show was both. Armin and company absolutely rocked my world that evening with music and lights, but that does not even get into the security running around, dozens of people sitting (and someone who tried standing and failed miserably) on each other’s shoulders, and the mysterious dancing styles of some of the people I found myself standing near; this night was a movie. I’ve been to a variety of EDM shows, and have fancied them all for different reasons, but there is nothing that will ever compare to one of the best DJs in the world from the Netherlands, coming to my hometown and selling out my favorite venue. I can say this for myself and what I am sure is many others – Armin van Buuren: we are not worthy, and we are so incredibly grateful.