Beyond the Lineup: A State of Trance Rotterdam

A State of Trance DESTINATION took place on Friday February 23rd and Saturday 24th at Ahoy Rotterdam. A State of Trance (ASOT) is more than just a popular radio broadcast in the Netherlands but a global movement that attracts trance lovers of all ages from every corner of the globe. This was the tenth edition in the Netherlands and the very first time that ASOT was held in Rotterdam.

With over 40,000 fans in attendance, 60 unique acts, across five stages, the sold-out event not only offered some of the hottest names in the trance scene coupled with state-of-the-art production but also unique events for visitors to attend as well. Beyond the festival, ravers had the opportunity to spend the weekend at the ASOT Hotel. The completely sold-out experience included a jam-packed day program featuring pre-parties, a mini-conference, and an exclusive goodie bag.

One other unique aspect of ASOT this year was the first ever ASOT tram. Leading up to the festival a special tram in collaboration with RET (tram provider in Rotterdam) and Rotterdam Festivals, hosted a tram rave (only in the Netherlands can you find something like this!) with Armin van Buuren, Joris Voorn, Ferry Corsten and more.

ASOT this year was over the top, not only featuring some of the biggest names in Trance both of today and in history but also including some heavy-hitters in the Melodic Techno and Tech-House scene as well.

Getting There

If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, this is usually the section where I usually discuss in extreme detail the journey it took to get to the festival (I’ve taken planes, trains, cars, shuttles, ferries, buses, etc.). However, when I found out that ASOT this year was to be taking place in Rotterdam just a 30-minute drive from my home in Leidschendam, I was ecstatic.

For those who are not as lucky to live in the Hague area, there were plenty of options such as shuttles, car ride share apps, or a short walk from the ASOT hotel. From what I observed and heard from friends and other fans who were in attendance, the lines to get in moved quickly and everything was extremely organized denoting the appropriate entrance.

Venue

Rotterdam Ahoy is an event center and indoor arena situated just outside of the center of Rotterdam. Ahoy is the home to many events (such as Christmas Fair I attended a few years back) and has hosted a myriad of noteworthy events such as the MTV Europe music Awards and the Eurovision Song Contest.

ASOT consisted of five stages and getting around the venue was fairly easy with clear signs and large maps indicating where to go. Outside of each stage was a large sign with the area’s name and the line up which also made it much easier to figure out where you are. Regarding the facilities there was a mix of both actual restrooms a porta-potties (such as at Area One if the music was so good you didn’t want to leave but also had to go to the bathroom).

There were also your usual standard festival offerings such as plenty of photo-op areas (including a photo booth!), lockers of various sizes, people walking around selling earplugs, and a merchandise stand. What sets ASOT apart from the many raves and festivals that I’ve attended in my 16 years of attending electronic music events, is their commitment to accessibility. ASOT offered a fast line forwheelchair users in addition to various access points for expedited entry throughout the festival and
a designated viewing area of the mainstage.

Food & Drinks

ASOT had your standard festival bites when it came to food and drinks: hamburgers, traditional Dutch fried snacks, fries, pizza, hot dogs, kebab, chicken sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, and ice pops. The prices were standard for 2024 rave food courts (makes me miss the 2010’s but it’s standard now): about 10 euro for a hamburger, 5 euro for fries, 10.50 for a cocktail, 6.50 for a hard seltzer, 4 euro for a small beer, and 2.75 for soft drinks. The only shocking part concerning the drink options was that it was 5 euro for a water and there weren’t really any water refill stations other than where you could wash your hands. Despite the sinks clearly stating “Not Drinking Water” everyone was filling up cups and water bottles there. ASOT like most festivals in the Netherlands has incorporated a recycling program where upon entering the festival you receive a recycle token. With your first drink you present the recycle token to not pay a premium on your order. Following that first drink you must return a cup or a bottle
otherwise you pay a fee. Throughout the evening the floor was pretty clean and there were plenty of staff walking through the food court collecting trash throughout the night. ASOT was a cashless event, for those who did want to pay in cash you could top up money on a card to be used at any of the vendors. The card also served a souvenir to remember the night by!
One other notable aspect regarding food and drinks was that the food court was the perfect meet up spot! Anytime I had to find anyone I would have them meeting me at the food court as it was extremely spacious but also offered plenty of picnic tables centered around a bar. From the food court you could also hear the music from Area Four so it was great if you wanted to chill and still enjoy the music!

Stages

ASOT consisted of five stages, areas one through five. Although the stages did not have unique identifiers it was still very easy to find each stage between the map, signs in the hallway leading the way, and a large sign in front of the stage.

Area One

Area One was the mainstage hosting trance legends such as Armin van Buuren, Cosmic Gate, and Ferry Corsten. Area One was the largest of each of the areas with VIP viewing decks situated on each side of the room. On the ground-level behind the DJ booth was an area that was accessible for everyone, providing for a Boiler Room type of experience where ravers could get close to the DJ (not as close as the actual Boiler Room) sets of course but close enough to the stage to provide a more
intimate experience.

Area Two

Area Two was the home for Trance classics. The defining characteristic of Area Two was a large LED screen that hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room and extended all the way from the front to the back projecting “A State of Trance” or the name of the artist in various colors.

Area Three

Area three was the place to be for techno with fan favorites such as Miss Monique, HI-LO, and many more. Behind the DJ booth of Area Three was a large cylindrical shipping container that projected a live-stream of the DJ making it easy for everyone to the crowd to see the action!

Area Four

Area Four, also known as the cube, was my personal favorite area. Situated by the food court, Area Four was an enclosed LED lit up cube with scaffolding around each side. There were four sets of stairs, two on either side of the DJ booth and then two in the back that allowed for patrons to watch the show from various perspectives. Lights descended upon the crowd from every point in the cube.

Area Five

Area five was the most intimate of the five stages but with the craziest lasers! This stage hosted a mix of Classic Trance, Melodic Techno, and Deep House, and Deep Techno.

Music

Armin van Buuren (Destination Set)

As the mastermind behind the ASOT brand, and the Trance genre, Armin took us on a journey during his Destination on Friday night from start to finish. Throughout the weekend, Armin took the stage both solo and back-to-back. Armin’s Destination set captivated the crowd with his signature blend of both classic melodic beats and uplifting rhythms such as Take Off, Love is a Drug, and Feel Again.There were even a few surprises in there such as Hardwell taking the stage for their newest track
Follow the Light.

Ben Nicky (Presents Emotional Havoc)

Ben Nicky, traditionally best known for his Psytrance and Hard Dance sets, took us in a different direction for this year’s ASOT. Ben Nicky curated a sonic expedition into the world of classic trance. It was during this set where I lost my voice from all of the singing to my favorite trance anthems from back in the day such as Million Voices, For an Angel, and Until We Meet Again. He of course dropped my all-time favorite track from him We Come 1. As Castles in the Sky blasted from the speaker and confetti rained down on the crowd, I was reminded once again why I love this music so much.

Armin van Buuren b2b Joris Voorn

To close out Friday night, Armin van Buuren and Joris Voorn took the stage for a legendary back-to-back set. The original plan was to leave a little early on the first night but before I knew it, it was 6:00 AM and we were still there! This one-and-a-half-hour set went hard from start to finish keeping the crowd energized despite how late (or how early rather) it was. This set pushed the boundaries of Trance and Techno with bangers such as Nightfall, Transmission, Love is Noise, Pegasus and so many
more! Moreover, the chemistry between these two legends was unparalleled.

DJ Atara

DJ Atara took the stage at Area Four on Saturday night as one of the contest winners. Despite it being early in the night, the crowd went wild. As a rising star in the Psytrance scene, DJ Atara demonstrated both her passion and her exceptional talent. Her performance and energy on stage at ASOT was a testament to her ability to command the crowd.

Cosmic Gate

Cosmic Gate delivered a set once again that was nothing short of stellar. Despite having lost my voice I still managed to let it all out for favorites such as Nothing to Hide, Your Mind, and of course everyone’s favorite Exploration of Space.

Ferry Corsten

Kicking off the set with the ASOT anthem Destination, Ferry Corsten took us on a wild ride through a set filled with both nostalgia and new hits. Ferry’s seamless ability to intermingle classics such as White Space and Punk with his new collaboration with Marsh, Fulfillment showcases that even as a veteran in the scene he’s been able to stay dynamic in the forever changing landscape of Electronic Music.

Atmosphere & General Thoughts

As it was my first time attending a rave at Ahoy, I had no idea what to expect but I was blown away by the production, pyrotechnics, and how each stage had a totally different light show! At some point there were lasers coming from all sides of the room.

The event itself was extremely organized and it was easy to navigate to each stage, however at some points it was extremely crowded. I was hoping to attend Armin’s b2b set with HI-LO but it was so packed that you couldn’t enter. Then attempting to leave there to go to the food court through only one door being open led to a potentially dangerous situation of a huge crowd pushing through a small space. Due to the popularity of HI-LO and the uniqueness of the b2b set, that set probably
would have been better off in Area One as there was significantly more space. Aside from that, there
was plenty of space to dance at each of the stages!

Since its inception in 2001, A State of Trance has grown from a radio show to a record label, to an event organization, to truly a lifestyle for the die-hard trance fans. For more than twenty years, Armin van Buuren has continued to take break boundaries and not only stay relevant but to captivate an international audience time and time again. Despite the number of sets Armin performs in a night, no set is quite like the other, no show is quite the same. He continues to deliver and go above and beyond again and again while collaborating with artists across various genres of music and incorporating new and upcoming DJs along the way ultimately demonstrating why he will
forever be the king of Trance music.

By Amy Farina
@MCUnicornOfficial

*This article was originally published on EDM House Network
https://edmhousenetwork.com/this-was-a-state-of-trance/

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