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Closing Party Review: ASOT, 24th September

Armin pun heaven!

A State Of Trance's move to Privilege this year has been a big win for trance goers; from our laser-dazzled perspective it seems like a match made in heaven. Thus it was with complete confidence of a very fun night ahead that I entered the trance hub for the last time this year.

When I arrived Markus Schulz was in full swing, knocking out an energetic warm-up mix to a rammed Privilege main room. Warm-up probably isn't the right phrase, as Schulz was playing a very animated and dynamic set with plenty of epic moments. Whilst techno DJs might take until 6am to crack a smile, Schulz, like the rest of the ASOT cohort, was a bouncing bag of toothy smiles for the entirety of his slot. His music was interrupted towards the end with a live video message from Armin Van Buuren, transmitting all the way from somewhere behind the stage to check that we were as excited as possible and request that we scream (once more – with feeling). Definitely one of the less ‘spontaneous' moments of the night, but we'll let that one slide. Schulz closed with a tune that boasts some of my favourite vocals floating around in trance this year, Nothing Without Me, one of Schulz's own from his latest album Scream.

Then it was Armin o clock. The big man was due out any minute, but not before a little promo video on a very, very large screen. This was my only low-light of the night; I just can't reconcile myself with pausing the music to screen a promotional video on Privilege's inescapable gargantuan screen advertising the night we've already shown our support for and turned up to. Not cool Armin – let's get to the music! This particular gripe aside, what followed was an all-too-brief display of a very comfortable Armin doing what he does best.

The roar when Armin took the stage (let's face it, he does make it a stage) was bone-rattling. He began with the penultimate statue-of-liberty-headphone pose; this shifted into his second favourite jesus-on-the-cross pose, and then he busied himself with blasting out How Do I Know with Andrew Rayel featuring Jano by way of an opener. He went on to smash out a set with his usual morish blend of foot-stomping drops and tear-jerking breakdowns, with a healthy sprinkling of husky vocals and white noise. We dutifully raised our arms and closed our eyes like good little trance fans, and blissed out to tracks like WW's Invasion (ASOT 550 Anthem) and Armin's own I'll Listen, featuring Ana Criado. My only complaint is that a certain family member of Armin's, one Eller Van Buuren, was conspicuously absent from Armin's set. Eller first broke my heart when he weilded his guitar whilst hanging from a cord above the crowd at Armin Only, and has been dangling from the ceilings of my dreams ever since. I thought perhaps he'd appear from the woodworks for the final ASOT but alas – it wasn't to be. At one point I was mercilessly teased by the descending of a cable towards the main dance floor, but my spirits plummeted when I beheld two scantily clad temptresses rising from the floor. Deceivers!

The usual trance topics were all canvassed throughout the course of the evening – love, immortality, summer, winter and tricky breakups – the salient points illuminated by epic breakdowns, driving drops and manic synths. Although great as always, Armin wasn't as huge a feature of the night as he has been at other events, rather all the artists in the ASOT family pulled it out of the bag and contributed equally to our night. Next in line was Dash Berlin, who has been taking care of the heavier end of the aural spectrum for ASOT all season. Tonight was no different, he proceeded to smash our face off with bangers like The Box, Unmet Ozcan and Epic, Quintino and Sandro Silva. He did wander into some euphoric vocal territory around about the 6am mark, but that was around the time I decided I'd had all the ASOT I could handle for one evening and it was time to enjoy a state of sleep.

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