The Expedition’s Trance Takeover of Madison Square Garden

Posted by on April 6, 2013


Wow, Wichita State is crushing Ohio State. This is not even close, who woulda thunk it. The bartender refills my glass as I watch the Shockers do just that, shock the basketball world and everyone’s bracket. Man was mine totally ruined, but at least I wasn’t the guy who picked georgetown to go all the way — dunk city. I look at my phone, 8:10. I am pushing the limit of how long I can stay at the bar because I need to get over to Madison Square Garden and sneak down past some security guards to a seat that isn’t in the obstructed view section. I close out and head over to the Garden to navigate the line and get inside.

The line is nonexistent, so I walk through and head up to the first level to probe the defenses of the seat security like a prized fighter trying to find the weak spot of my enemy. I see some other people dancing the same dance I am and as a group we would like to thank the kid in the teal tank who was escorted out of section 102 and left the entrance unguarded, letting the stream of approximately me and 4 other kids into the section. Thank you, because my seat put me dead center and I could see the entire arena laid out in front of me.


All this while German vet, Alex M.O.R.P.H had been putting on a clinic since 8:00pm with an ID-laced set he specially wove together for this special occasion. With tracks like “An Angel’s Love”, “The Expedition” and his soon to be released ode to the big apple “New York City”, all getting great reactions, Alex M.O.R.P.H got the room very, very warm. He mixed in some exclusive first plays from his new album, which from the sound of it, should be outstanding.


The night really got started once the concussive beats of W&W made their way to the stage at 9pm. They wasted no time elevating the state of trance with “Lift Off“. The onslaught of W&W and their friend’s tracks nearly brought the building to its knees, rattling every individual and the structure to its core. Madison Square Garden needed a break in between rounds of taking vicious upper cuts from Willem van Hanegem and Wardt van der Harst (man I am killing it right now with these boxing references), cutting the sound about half way through the set for about a minute and fully restoring it about 5 minutes later. This might have been for the best, since the building was literally getting shaken to its core. Finishing off their set with an onslaught of tracks like “The Code”, their ID with Hardwell, and their potent remix of Dash Berlin’s “Waiting”, it was a wonder how anyone could possibly follow up this set and keep the energy at this level in the building. If there was anyone for the task, it was the newly formed New World Punx, aka Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz.

I see the two goofballs come on stage and think back to earlier in the afternoon where we had the opportunity to sit down with them at the Dream Hotel downtown. A few choice quotes like “I like it when girls wear sweatpants that say juicy on the ass” and word “relentless” probably used over 50 times in 3 hours we waited to talk to them flashed through my mind as the two of them appeared stage left and stage right to take the decks from the two towering Dutchmen.


They kicked things off with the world premier of their new single “Romper”, and then moved into another premier of a bootleg of the classic “1998” from Binary Finary. The set seemed to swing pretty heavily back and forth between Ferry & Markus selections, with each having about 4 or 5 to start. You could tell that they were still two individual artists on stage, but were growing very comfortable with the idea of being a duo as the set wore on, especially after all of the days of back-to-back sets they had done. Both of them understood the gravity of playing at MSG, notably Markus as someone who has spent most of his life in the US, and there were moments when Markus would put his hands on his face with a look of disbelief at what he was witnessing, what he was doing and the history he was making. New World Punx is about having fun again, and they did just that, for those 1.5 hours putting on a dizzying display of relentless energy (just as you said Markus), showing to the world that the New World Punx are not to be messed with.

Alas, 11:30 came around and the main event was to step on to the stage. With all of the production slowly being unveiled throughout the night, once Armin van Buuren stepped up to his throne the entire stage came to life. I will never forget seeing Armin stepping onto the stage, Jesus pose and all, bathed in white light with every single arm, every single hard stretching as high as they could to the heavens that it is widely believed where Mr. van Buuren came from. He had the crowd utterly under his control from that moment on, pushing all the right buttons at the exact right time.

The set started with a few of his safer picks to get the crowd right where he needed them to be like the Andrew Rayel remix of “Clarity” and his remix of “Spectrum”. Once he got through the first 5 tracks, he started to pick up the pace calling on W&W to play the powerful and still Beatport top 10 “d#”, showing the future and the present together on stage. The tempo picked up with 2 Gaia tracks and coming to the first peak of the night with the Tomas Heredia remix of Armin van Buuren’s “Communication”. Not willing to let the crowd rest one moment he brought the tempo down slightly for a moment, but then worked it back up because this crowd was not afraid of 138. This was an all ages event (you could not tell), the crowd was there with Armin every step of the way, begging for more.

Mixing high powered drops like Rapha – Nice (Maarten de Jong Remix) with euphoric, uplifting tracks like “I’ll Listen”, and his now famous bootleg “Airport Shivers” helped bring the crowd to a new state of trance. The bootleg heavy portion of his set displayed the inner DJ in Armin that gets handcuffed slightly for these large events that have a large degree of pre-planning. Just as the clock was nearing 1am the instantly recognizable snares from the Illegal Drum Edit of “Brute” came roaring through the speakers, eliciting one last roar from the crowd — but there was one thing missing from the set. Armin still had not played his single with Trevor Guthrie “This Is What It Feels Like”. After the last of the snares of the Illegal Drum edit of “Brute” had rattled around the hallowed halls of Madison Sqaure Garden, the lights dimmed and Armin got on the mic as the sound “This Is What It Feels Like” started in the background. He proclaimed proudly over the mic “Most of all, the person I would like to thank is you. Thank you for making this one of the highlights of my career”, showing the magnitude of this event not just for trance in the US, but for arguably the biggest DJ in the entire world, Armin van Buuren. He then passed the baton off to Trevor Guthrie who came out to sing the vocals live with the W&W remix providing a thunderous conclusion to an unforgettable night at Madison Square Garden for all of the trance family in attendance.


As I rode the train home afterwards, both exhausted and exhilarated, the memories and emotions all hit me at once as I sunk back in my chair and I simply smiled at what had just occurred that night. A State Of Trance made its triumphant return to New York City for its 600th episode with a breathtaking performance by every DJ behind the decks. Just when you thought the night could not get any better, the next DJ did just that, elevating Madison Square Garden’s state of trance, eliciting a wide array of emotions and leaving behind memories and moments that will last a lifetime. The video below tries to capture what happened, but in reality, it is really impossible to do so.

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