Philadelphia’s always been a peculiar city for dance music. It’s got enough of a foothold to say there’s a “scene,” but it’s never been big enough to rival the EDM mainstays of New York, Los Angeles, Miami, etc. That didn’t stop Armin van Buuren from making a stop there during his “Intense” tour, and the city was glad he did.
Put on by the people at Soundgarden Hall (who may be, singlehandedly, creating Philadelphia’s current dance culture), Armin threw down a three hour set in the rain, on the river, and right in front of the skyline. We really couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the season of summer concerts, and Armin made sure we did it right.
After an opening set by Antillas, Armin took to the decks at 8 o’clock; early, but the crowd was ready for the sunset set. Starting off, as he has been all tour, with the pounding drums and delicate violins of “Intense,” Armin went on to flex his newly formed progressive muscles while still making sure Philly wasn’t afraid of 138. Trance bootlegs of “Not Giving Up On Love,” “Concrete Angel,” and “If I Lose Myself” blended perfectly with his newer style, which he brought in droves with sing-along hits like “Alone,” “Sound Of The Drums,” and “Forever Is Ours.” And like many DJs before him, when “Who’s Afraid of 138” began to pick up speed and the crowd was already in full swing, Armin held up his own Phillies Jersey: Number 138 to roars from the 7,000 person crowd.
But all good things come to an end. With about 30 minutes to go, as lightning began to flash over the river, Armin got on the mic and informed us that the authorities were shutting it down early. But, of course, he gave us one more for good measure. Hopping down from behind the booth to sing arm in arm with Trevor Guthrie, he played himself out to “This Is What It Feels Like” as the entire sold out crowd belted it out like there was no tomorrow.
After the show, the die-hard fans fled across the street in pouring rain to massive lines outside of Soundgarden Hall, where Rank 1 and Tritonal were spinnig the After Show. And being the great DJ he is, Armin popped in for an impromptu set to make up for lost time.
Ever since the dance music explosion, the majority of Philadelphian fans have been steeped in Dubstep tendencies. In just one night on the river, Armin van Buuren may have changed that. We’ll have to wait and see.