(Photos and review by Kristy Wendt)
Opener Blake Jarrell, a progressive DJ from Chicago, kept a full dance floor moving until around 12:20 p.m., when one of the world’s premiere trance DJs, Armin van Buuren, began spinning for the packed crowd last night at Dantes.
It might have been Jarrell's outstanding pace-setting and spinning (an audience favorite was the Linkin Park remix “Shadow of the Day”), or the crowd (which was the largest and most enthusiastic one I’d ever seen at Dantes; see picture), but Armin’s first mixes were collectively thrilling -- and for an apparent few, even rapture-inducing. Trance tempo floats somewhere above house, and Armin’s trance flavor is probably progressive, or even uplifting; while the bass lines were thump-thump repetitive and formulaic, the synthetic melodic leads weren’t the hypnotic stuff of hard trance, but plotted obvious buildups and breakdowns.
For the most part, Armin refrained from heavily incorporating vocals, which was surprising considering the nearly ubiquitous presence of female vocals on “Imagine.” His music maintained dance-floor popular appeal without it, but the movement and mystery established earlier by Blake Jarrell wasn’t upheld; if you didn’t succumb to the mindless frenzy Armin’s entrance induced, you probably didn’t by the end of the night.