Marc's Public Blog - Clubbing and Trance


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Ok, so I like electronic dance music, more specifically Trance. When I started in the 1990's, the US was a bit behind in that department.
Still, with San Francisco and San Jose nearby, I've had some opportunities to see some great EDM/Trance DJs. Back in the early 2000's, they sadly played club music in the US that was nowhere close to the hits they had composed and were known for, but over the years, as Trance started becoming more popular, those DJs finally started playing their good tunes in the US too, and maybe from 2004 on, it's only been getting better.
Popsicle Halloween 2004 was really the beginning of great music parties in the San Francisco Area, and thankfully things have gotten even better since then

As a matter of fact, after another 10 years (2015 and beyond) the good news is that Trance has grown quite a following in the US, and places like the SF Bay Area, and while Trance has been declared dead a few times in the last 10 years, it's still going strong here.
Trance Family SF is definitely strong in the area, we've been getting more big trance parties every year, including many top DJs that come visit us what feels like every other week now (as of 2018-2019), and through those events, I made many friends in Trance Family SF. Thanks to you all.

Over those years, I got the chance to meet a few of my favourite DJs, including Armin more than once, and my last hobby has been to work on lights for my shirt and pants (version 3) and (version 4)



You can find all the pictures here

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2023/03/03 ASOT 1000 Utrecht, State of Trance/Techno, Just 2 Years Late :)
π 2023-03-03 01:01 in Clubbing, Festivals


ASOT 1000, finally! It had to be postponed a few times due to covid, I had to rebook hotel rooms and trips, but it finally happened!

I had never been to a State of Trance in Holland, mostly because:

  • So far it was mostly a single day festival, not worth my flying to Europe for
  • Too many stages in not enough hours (about 9H). Having so many artists all at the same time, conflicting with one another, is not a win in my book
  • Should be at least 2x 9 hours (12h is better) with 3-4 stages at most (more stages is not more better, it's more great artists I get to watch on youtube later even though I spent thousands of dollars to be there). In some way this year's event got closer to delivering this (except the too many stages part on day 2, and for some reason starting the night at 22:00 instead of let's say 18:00)
  • But eh, 20 years of ASOT, with a 2 year delay due to covid, and the fact that they added a 2nd day, made it worth it enough to go.

    In real life, this year was more worth the trip with a (small private) party on wednesday at the Armada studio, a boat party on thursday, a pre-party in Utrecht that inexplicably ended at 01:00 due to some venue curfew (on a friday night?), and then the main event on saturday night 22:00 to 06:00

    Day 1: Pre-party, the night of real Trance

    First day, it was actually a longer walk than planned, Jaarbeurs is huge and takes a long time to walk around (the entrances unfortunately being the farthest away from the train station as possible):


    and VIP was an even longer walk, but signage was good
    and VIP was an even longer walk, but signage was good

    finally getting in
    finally getting in

    first day was simple :)
    first day was simple :)

    Due to the long walk and some delays getting in, we missed a little bit of Ruben's set, but got most of it. It was great trance as always:



    After 1h, Armin took over for the best 6H classics trance set I've heard from him in more years than I can count. It was pure joy for trance lovers, although it probably also was a farewell set, the last of its kind from Armin:


    we stayed front row as long as we could (the crowds got a bit out of hand after a while)
    we stayed front row as long as we could (the crowds got a bit out of hand after a while)




    After a while, we went higher up in the side VIP stands, not the best view, but more peaceful:


    Reflexion, aka mainstage, was big but the visuals were ok without being great
    Reflexion, aka mainstage, was big but the visuals were ok without being great

    nice to run into friends :)
    nice to run into friends :)



    There was one other room with other good sets, but it was hard to walk away from Armin's trance set:



    had to see some of FactorB
    had to see some of FactorB

    And back to mainstage to see the rest of Armin's set:



    as expected, not a lot of people dressed up outside of ourselves, that's how EU festivals usually are
    as expected, not a lot of people dressed up outside of ourselves, that's how EU festivals usually are

    but we did our best to bring smiles :)
    but we did our best to bring smiles :)

    a few others, did too
    a few others, did too



    the night ended with Susanna
    the night ended with Susanna




    And by 01:00, it was over. Armin actually said on the mike that they were required to stop that early. A 01:00 curfew on a major venue on a friday night? Or some other labor restriction? Hard to say, but indeed for what this could have been a full on 2 day festival, it was a bit weird. Still, let's no complain, we did have 7 hours of beautiful trance.

    Day #1 Video Summary:

    Day 2: A State of Techno?

    Day #2 started inexplicably late, 22:00 (actually 21:00 with Ruben's warm up set). No idea why with so many DJs, it couldn't also start at 18:00 and help spread out the sets a bit more. It really would have have been fine to have this be a 12H night

    Mainstage (reflexion) on day #2 turned to "a state of techno" soon after Ruben De Ronde was done playing great trance as always. Eh, it was ASOT, no one said what the 'T' stood for :)
    I'm definitely more into Trance than Techno, but it's true that there is more and more overlap between the 2 genres recently, and even the radio show said they'd feature more techno, so I guess the future is now. I didn't think it was bad, I guess a bit of variety doesn't hurt and I have to keep an open mind. Also, not everyone is blessed to be a die hard trance lover, so I guess it's ok to appeal to other crowds, especially for a big event.
    I do need to state that day #1 (friday) was a joyous night of Trance. Ruben delivered as always and Armin played the most beautiful classic trance set I've heard him play in more years than I can remember (which was of course the plan), so I wasn't bothered that he played a lot of more techno-ish things on saturday. To me, it's pretty clear that Armin wants to evolve beyond just trance, and he knows that he if wants to remain somewhere at the top of the DJ100 chart, he has to play more mainstage stuff and more genres, even if his original fans might not love some of it. I can't say I can blame him for that, it is what is is.

    So for Day 2, arrived early in the main room to secure a good viewing spot:


    it got filled quickly
    it got filled quickly


    Ruben opened the night, and arguably got the best spot since he had no one playing at the same time. Lovely set again:




    After Ruben's set was over, was time to go check out other stages, some were somewhat of a walk away:






    nice to run into friends
    nice to run into friends




    Went to check out other stages:

    would have loved to see Xiaro  Pitch, but conflicts made that not possible
    would have loved to see Xiaro Pitch, but conflicts made that not possible

    would also have liked to see all these sets, only saw 2
    would also have liked to see all these sets, only saw 2



    wasn't able to see any of these
    wasn't able to see any of these

    the stages sometimes a bit confusing to find, but signage helped
    the stages sometimes a bit confusing to find, but signage helped

    oh yeah, merch
    oh yeah, merch

    Back to mainstage, a state of techno:



    found one person with an LED outfit, mine was supposed to say because I'm not hipster enough for techno
    found one person with an LED outfit, mine was supposed to say because I'm not hipster enough for techno

    After Armin's mostly techno on mainstage, went to see Craig Connelly's lovely trance set at cube:




    we even ran into Chris again
    we even ran into Chris again




    Unexpectedly, sphere shown full for a while when we tried to go see Armin play there, but thankfully it re-opened after a short while:


    unexpectedly ran into my friend Aryel for ust a few seconds before she disappeared again :)
    unexpectedly ran into my friend Aryel for ust a few seconds before she disappeared again :)


    After a bit of Armin's 2nd set, back to mainstage to see the end of Ferry Corsten, and then Vini Vici:





    After it became way too much techno, we went to finish the night at sphere with Bryan Kearney:



    and just like that, 06:00 happened and the night was over, time to run to the airport to get our flight back to SFO
    and just like that, 06:00 happened and the night was over, time to run to the airport to get our flight back to SFO



    Day #2 Video Summary:

    Day 2: Secret Room

    Yes, the venue had 6rooms including the secret room that was really cool, even if super hot, was lucky enough to catch Ruben De Ronde and Armin Van Buuren who were playing there:

    what a surprise to run into this
    what a surprise to run into this

    Armin likely hadn't played in such a small room in a while :)
    Armin likely hadn't played in such a small room in a while :)



    General Thoughts


    Security had a long list of forbidden things, and silly rules on paper, but in real life they were very reasonable. I had a supervisor allow my outfit full of electronics and my LED backpack that was oversized. Much much better experience than luminosity and its mall rent-a-cops that were more interested in following unreasonable rules to the letter than making sure people were safe (they took sunscreen away) or had a good time
    That said, let's read bits from the posted rules they didn't enforce. It's good that they didn't enforce them, but bad that the rules are so overreaching on paper:
  • "it is forbidden to bring any camera"
  • organizer has the right to claim these objects (including camera), claimed objects will not be returned but destroyed
  • recording of event without consent, is not allowed (i.e. everyone recording anything with a phone is violating)
  • I'm not trying to be a strickler, but I tink it's important to have reasonable rules on paper and the 3 above do not match reality. All that said, in real life, the security was actually very reasonable and cared about people having a good time, so thank you for that.

    A bit of local humor:

    we forgot to come back at the end to see if there was anything in the bin :)
    we forgot to come back at the end to see if there was anything in the bin :)

    General thoughts about venue:

  • The stages all had good sound and pretty good visuals. They were not to the level of insomniac EDC or Dreamstate socal, but that's a very high bar that's hard to match. Overall they did a good job, but sure mainstage could have a bit more of a "wow" factor.
  • Getting around was a bit confusing at times, including with the one way only paths, but they had reasonably good signage
  • Water containers/camelbacks were allowed and you could refill them in the bathroom. Thank you.
  • There was mosty working wifi for attendees in the venue, awesome!
  • Food options were good enough, and drinks available easily, without silly tokens (contactless credit cards ok)
  • Lockers unfortunately were outside security, This was ok if you brought things you couldn't get in, but they were a long walk away, and you had to go back through security each time you walked out to your locker, that wasted a lot of time. Also, they didn't tell VIPs not to buy lockers because they were already included. I think it would be easy to move security at the entrance so that lockers are after security (even if that would still put them a long walk away given their distance from the stages)
  • Conclusions

    All in all the event was well run, the venue was good despite the little flaws mentioned above, the event was very well run, and thanks to all the DJs who came to play for us.
    Yes, at this point, it's not really "a state of trance" anymore, especially given the amount of techno on mainstage, but it is what it is, there was still plenty of fun music for all. Let's call it "ASOTTP", A State of Trance, Techno, and Progressive.

    Would I go back? As per the current format, probably not: for me, festivals should really be at least 2x9h or 2x12h with pre-parties 1 or 2 days before (making it worth a 3 or 4 day trip for non locals, akin to ADE). If ASOT becomes a solid 2x9H or better 2x12H festival where the sets are more spread out across fewer rooms with fewer conflicts, then it would become more interesting to non locals and be worth the trip more. That said, it was 1000, even if 2 years late, and I'm very happy I went and go to see it at least once.

    Very glad to have been there, and somehow managed to meet all my friends in the same place at the same time right at the end :)


    Should you go? Would I go Back?

    If you are in Europe, why not? Otherwise, I don't recomend the trip.
    For me? Not really, this was a one time thing.

  • Security was reasonable, even if having the lockers only outside security, was suboptimal
  • Overall it was a well run event
  • The production value was good, but not on par with insomniac festivals in the US. A real festival like Beyond Wonderland, EDC, or Dreamstate Socal, has much better production value (and also 2 times 9h up to 3 times 12h).
  • My main beef with the regular ASOT events is that they were 1 day only, only about 9H with way too many stages all at once, so you miss so much anyway. FOMO is real, have a longer event with fewer conflicting stages
  • This year, ASOT was 2 days, kinda, but still started at 22:00 on day #2. Why so late? Why only 9H?
  • If you live in Europe and Holland isn't that far/expensive, it's still a good party. If you're flying from overseas for what is usually a single day, with all those conflicts, it's less of an obvious choice in my opinion.
  • Way too much techno this year. It's supposed to be a state of trance, but clearly it has turned more into a generic EDM festival. Is it bad? Maybe not, that's for everyone to decide for themselves.
  • I'm glad I went to this one, not sure I'll otherwise do the trip for future ones
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