And That Ladies & Gents Was Armin van Buuren

Armin van BuurenThis past weekend I had the chance to visit the windy city of Chicago, Illinois to see one of my all time favorite DJs.  He was playing at the Aragon just outside of Wrigleyville on one of his only Midwest tour stops this year.  This was a one night only event on the 2009 Cirque Tour that included another incredible DJ by the name of Glenn Morrison.  These two powerhouse talents were touring the country, better yet the world, in hopes of spreading their record spinning skills with each and every one of us.  The venue in Chicago only held 1,400 folks but I am sure he could have sold twice as many tickets had he wanted to.  Having already seen this year Paul van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold, two more of the world’s top DJs, it was time to just complete that list with the one and only Armin van Buuren.

The show was on a Friday so I was forced to still work a full day before getting the chance to head to the show.  I left work a little before 5:00 PM and darted home to pack a bag for the weekend.  Sheryl and I would be staying at the Hilton right downtown for the night so I needed a change of clothes, and shoes, to be able to spend the weekend in Chicago.  Around 6:00 PM we headed out the door on our way to the hotel to check in, change clothes, and head out for a night of dancing. (Just for the record I do not dance.  I move my body in ways that might appear to some as dancing, but I do not dance.)

When we first got to Chicago, after a few delays in traffic and frustration behind the wheel, we managed to find our hotel without too much trouble.  We did make a wrong turn but with the power of our GPS we ended up in the right place. We first parked in what we thought was an $8 a weekend parking garage but I will touch more on that in a later post as it deserves some attention.  We headed to check in and were handed their “only room available” which was a smoking room.  But they promised a great view of the city so we took it without too much debate.  We grabbed out bags and headed to our room.

The room did have a nice view of the city.  Shortly after changing, and without coats I might add, we headed to the train station.  It was located literally right outside the entrance to the hotel.  We jumped on the L and headed to the Aragon.  Sheryl had researched it enough to know exactly where to get on and get off of the train.  When the train stopped she said that the Aragon should not be too far from where we were.  She was right.  It was literally right across the street.

We headed to the venue, walked right in, and started listening to the beats of Glenn Morrison.  By the time we actually made it to the dance floor itself I was so taken a back by the venue that I had forgotten there were even DJs playing.  The venue itself is incredible.  It was build in the early part of the 1900’s and cost over two million dollars.  Back then to spend that kind of money on what would later become a concert venue was simply unheard of.  No matter the cost it was one of the prettiest and most detailed venues I have ever been in.  The only thing more interesting to look at than the architecture was the mixture of people in the crowd and on the dance floor.

The crowd at the show was not what I was expecting.  It was a mixture of people who I would be shocked even knew whom Armin van Buuren was, let along knew how to sing his lyrics and dance to his beats.  There were a lot of girls there as well which came as a surprise to me.  This genre of music is usually dedicated, and frequented by, the gay community.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that is just the stereotypical response when someone asks, “Who listens to techno?”  There were some gay men and women there, don’t get me wrong, but there was a mixture that I did not expect.  I even had the chance to point and laugh a few times at some guys in their forties wearing Ed Hardy.  They were in the VIP section so I couldn’t laugh too long; they had better seats than me.

Before Glenn was finished playing Sheryl and I made our way upstairs to grab a seat.  There were not very many people upstairs as most people that come to a show like this intend to dance.  However, I just wanted to take a moment to let it all sink in that I was a few minutes away from seeing AVB spin for the next three hours.

Not long after we grabbed our seats I noticed some people hanging out in the roped off section beside us.  I mentioned to Sheryl that these folks looked important when all of a sudden I noticed none other than the blonde locks of AVB himself.  I grabbed Sheryl’s attention away from her iPhone and told her I would be right back.  I walked right over to Armin, introduced myself, and we began chatting for a few minutes before he went on to perform.  I had just met, shaken hands with, and shared stories with Armin van Buuren.  He had not even performed yet and I was ready to go; how else could this get any better?

A handful of moments later he walked out on stage and started playing.  For the next three hours I would hear Armin spin from various albums including his best, in my opinion, Imagine as well as some new tracks from his brand new album Universal Language.  He did about an hour or so of non-vocal beats that I had never heard before.  It was almost like he was spinning original tracks right there in front of me.  His light show, on top of everything, was pretty impressive as well.  However, I was a little disappointed in his dancers.  Having just seen Paul Oakenfold in Las Vegas, Nevada I had some high hopes for Armin’s dancers.  See, Oakenfold had a variety of dancers that all matched his image perfectly.  He had guys dressed like lizards crawling around the venue and people hanging and spinning from ropes all over the place.  He even had a woman dressed in steel that was walking around shooting sparks into the air with a grinder.  Paul is not even in the top ten currently of the world’s best DJs but still managed to throw together quite the show.  But Armin simply has better beats and more in depth tracks.

By the time the night was over I had heard every song that I had wanted to hear from him and more.  I got to witness the single best DJ on the planet spinning for over three hours.  I was given incredible treatment by the Aragon staff, and will be returning for future dates because of this show.  Sheryl did lose her iPhone later that night, but found a camera on the dance floor.  It does not do it justice as she will be without a phone for a few days, but the camera is a four hundred dollar Panasonic ultra 10x zoom camera.  Consider it a parting gift if you will.

We headed back to our hotel to pass out as we had been up since early that morning.  We lost an hour coming to Chicago as well so we were extra tired when he stopped spinning at almost three in the morning.  The next day would be spent walking around to various restaurants, hole in the wall bars, and seeing the sights of the windy city.  All in all, outside of the lost cell phone, it was an incredible trip to Chicago.  AVB put on one incredible show and I am not sure it can ever be topped.  No DJ that I have ever seen before has been that in tune into his music.  Armin jumped up and down, waved his hands and arms around like he was on fire, and I even caught him singing his own lyrics a time or two.  Armin knows how to please a crowd.  If you have not heard his stuff please check him out as you will not be disappointed.  Next on my list of DJs is David Guetta who I will be seeing in Columbus, Ohio on the 26th of November.  Who’s coming with me?