May 13, 2014
Armin Only: Intense Hits California


For fans of Armin van Buuren, there is no event quite like Armin Only. Featuring an extended set from the man himself as well as multiple instrumentalists, vocalists, and dancers, Armin Only is Armin as he should truly be seen. The current Armin Only tour is in celebration the release of his most recent album, Intense, and it brings with it all of the raw, emotional energy found in what is perhaps the five-time #1 DJ’s most crossover-friendly work to date.

LessThan3 was lucky enough to attend the San Jose and Los Angeles dates, and each offered an extended look into the musical mind of one of the most prominent electronic musicians of our generation. For any dance music fan in the general vicinity of SJ or LA, these truly were events not to be missed.

SAP Center, San Jose

Words by Josh Bennett.

The SAP Center in San Jose does not play host to DJs very often, but you wouldn’t know it upon entering the arena on May 1. The place was alive with excitement, from the floor to the upper rafters. From the moment Armin appeared onstage as a silhouette behind a blue orb, the entire audience was captivated by the melodic offerings of the king of trance.

armin only blue sphere

A more progressive set gave way to Intense sounds when the orb lifted and the crowd could finally see Armin for the first time. The album’s title track was the kick-off of this section of the set. It featured a live violinist playing the violin part of the track with all the prowess of a classically trained musician. From that point forward, the energy never backed off for a second. Andrew Rayel’s Dark Warrior followed, which had Armin doing the signature “Rayel hand wave” that Andrew has become known for in his live sets.

armin only heart visual

The real magic in this show came whenever Armin used live instrumentalists and vocalists. From stunning drum solos to majestic piano performances and guitar provided by Armin’s brother Eller van Buuren, Armin’s set showed why trance is arguably the most “musical” of all the genres of electronic music. A personal highlight was when Alone vocalist Lauren Evans revealed in the middle of her powerhouse vocal performance that she wrote the song after seeing a man fall on the street and no one come to his aid. It was a moving moment for everyone in attendance. Even at the end of his set, Armin continued to honor his vocalists and instrumentalists in a way that most DJs are rarely seen doing, bringing them all onstage to thunderous applause. Armin is a man who knows how to honor his team.

The Forum, Los Angeles

Words by Chris Downar.

It had been over six years since an Armin Only event took place in Los Angeles, so the crowd was more than ready to give Armin a full welcome on Friday, May 9 at The Forum. Fans poured into the venue early to experience the full duration of his five-hour set, with many having flown in from other parts of the country to attend. Nearly everyone was up on their feet and dancing throughout the show, even given the fact that most of the arena has seating.

armin van buuren intense violin

Intense is the perfect term to describe the spectacular LA production of Armin van Buuren’s unparalleled concert experience. Time flew by, and there was never a dull moment. The custom visuals on the huge LED screens held everyone’s attention, and were wonderfully crisp and life-like. The amazing cast that Armin invited all delivered very impassioned performances. It was the perfect blend of DJing, live instruments, acrobatics, and singing. Some of the moments that really stood out were when Koen Herfst unleashed a riveting drum solo, when Armin’s brother Eller van Buuren rocked out on his guitar during This Is What It Feels Like, and when the singer Lauren Jansen had everyone singing their hearts out to Use Somebody.

armin van buuren forum crowd red confetti

At times the show felt a bit like a rock concert, but it still had the goosebump-inducing magic of one of Armin’s signature A State Of Trance DJ sets. Some of the tracks that had everyone going wild were his Airport Shivers mashup, his In and Out of Love / Raw Deal mashup, and the beautiful tribute song RAMelia by RAM and Susana. The crowd was overjoyed when a shower of enormous yellow happy-faced beach balls fell from the stadium’s ceiling during Armin’s latest banger Ping Pong.

armin only LA singer

For information on upcoming Armin Only tour dates, click here.

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