Dreamstate is the voice American fans needed for trance
As three o’clock inched closer on Sunday morning, subtle hints of pain began to cross the faces of Dreamstate’s first guests. Twenty of the past 48 hours had been spent at the mercy of ceaseless kicks set at 138BPM and above. Yet despite waves of exhaustion tempting to conquer them, they persevered – why? Because history was being made at this very moment, and they were determined to savor every last second of pure, unadulterated trance hurled at them from the festival’s crisp sound system.
Trance has officially returned to America, and Dreamstate just proved that it’s here to stay.
Photo by: Ivan Meneses
Entering the festival, revelers were immediately transported into a futuristic dream world. The décor carried similar overtones to Armin Van Buuren’s ASOT events, morphing the hangar space into something resembling a giant spaceship. DJs played the role of pilots, taking over the motherboard-shaped decks to guide us into our trance-induced Dreamstate. Combined with insane visuals and lasers rivaling a Prydz show, NOS’s Damus building provided an impeccable setting for escaping reality.
Photo by: Jake West
With such high-caliber and relatively underground artists booked, an immense pressure was felt to for them perform exceptionally. On Friday, for instance, we were launched into darkness during peak hours as the likes of Astrix, Paul Oakenfold, and Indecent Noise pummeled fans with serious tech and psy trance. One of the best sets of the night was Israeli icon Ace Ventura, whose hypnotic, progressive psy had the crowd losing their perception of time. Orjan Nilsen’s set afterward was an odd change of pace, but the Norwegian pleasantly surprised everyone by playing his most revered classics. Meanwhile, Pure Trance maestro Giuseppe Ottaviani charmed everyone early on, structuring his hour like an oreo with fluffy uplifting surrounded by crunchy, tough tech trance.
Photo by: Jake West
Day two was notably on the lighter side though peppered with Will Atkinson’s angrily satisfying mix, “Psymon” Patterson performing, and Jordan Suckley airing on the sinister side of his musical spectrum. Heavyweights Aly & Fila, Paul Van Dyk, and John O’Callaghan induced euphoria, lightening the atmosphere with classics and dramatic breakdowns. Emotions ran especially high during Simon O’Shine’s opening slot as his therapeutic uplifting performance set a blissful tone for the rest of the night. Bryan Kearney proved an excellent closer, supplying some of the gathering’s most memorable moments and causing collective tears to be cried with Oceanlab’s ageless anthem “Clear Blue Water” and Armin Van Buuren’s “Burned With Desire.”
Photo by: aLive
Brilliant music aside, what really set Dreamstate apart from other festivals was its attendees. Loneliness, after all, is virtually nonexistent when you’re part of the trance community. Those who made the pilgrimage were greeted with a room full of friendship and openness fostered by the music that brought them there. The one-stage set up allowed little room for distraction outside the DJs and each other. Many met for the first time after being friends for years through online trance forums — a beautiful spectacle to watch.
An 18+ event, Dreamstate’s demographic was surprisingly mature. The average age range began in the mid-twenties and expanded into the late 30s. This of course translated to excruciatingly long alcohol lines, but nothing could bring anyone down as unified sing-alongs to “Sun and Moon” among other famed anthems in the blustering cold made the wait fly by. A more mature crowd also meant everyone gave each other ample room to dance no matter where you were situated. Younger fans were eagerly taken in by their veteran counterparts, who looked forward to passing their love for the genre down to newer generations. It was a “Trance Family” in every sense.
Photo by: Jake West
Insomniac took a risk in creating America’s first event dedicated to the genre: a feat thought capable in only very few select places with more developed dance scenes. Even more of a gamble was their decision to book artists that rarely make headlines, instead choosing acts geared toward the most dedicated of fans.
Regardless of these obstacles, trance and its family prevailed. Watching a patchwork crowd of vastly different people come together under one cause and lose themselves completely to the music and each other illustrated its power within the dance world. As the Dreamstate gave way to reality during its closing minutes, one message rang clear: we’re ready for more.