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Event Recap: POPNYE with Above & Beyond, Dash Berlin, Ferry Corsten, Tony McGuinness & Jono Grant

Event Recap: Above & Beyond, Dash Berlin, Ferry Corsten, Tony McGuinness and Jono Grant


All photos by

Erik Madsen


Wow. Words can’t describe the imagery and feelings I still get recapping New Years Eve at POPNYE at the Oracle Arena. The entire night consisted of smiles, warm vibes and meeting new people who adored trance music.

As the sun started to set in Oakland, I was on my way to trance heaven. Thankfully, I was an early bird avoiding the long lines, aggressive security, dreadful bathroom wait and claimed my territory for the night on the floor: standing right against the barricade on the right hand side of the stage just feet away from Dyloot. Considering how early I arrived, the aura within the Oracle was just beginning to blossom as ravers, ragers, and trance heads flooded the stands and floor. In my opinion, my night started with the Dutch natives Ward van der Harst & Willem van Hanegem the darling gents of W&W hitting the stage opening with one of my favorite tracks “Shotgun” which created the biggest smile on my face as I started moving my feet, imitating the synths in “Shotgun” with my voice like a nerd. It started the pace for the rest of the night because Harst and Hanegem aren’t strangers in creating beautiful build-ups that blossom into a dirty breakdown. Then it just seemed that time went by fast as “Nowhere to Go,” dropped and I started singing along to the voice of Bree, “tonight, we got no where to go, no where to be but here,” with my hands thrown high in the air. I swear W&W never disappoints…proven by the goose bumps on everyone’s skin around me when their remix of Dash Berlin’s “Waiting,” dropped. You can hear the voices of the Oracle singing in unison, “so far away, you’re gone so long and I’m waiting, till that day I take you home, know that I’m waiting.” Nothing compares to that beautiful moment of hearing individuals voices coming together, uniting, and singing in unison. Of course, the boys dropped their latest track “Lift Off” which received a warm vibe from the crowd and the duo did a wonderful job of getting the high energy pace boiling to the point of no return, especially when trance legends Above & Beyond hit the stage to change lives as usual.



As I had my tissue ready in my hand, I see Tony McGuinness and Jono Grant grace the stage with their presence prepared to make my life highly emotional and start crying like a baby amongst a crowd of thousands. Unlike the first time I saw them, they ended up making me cry not once, not twice, but three times on NYE’s because Tony and Pavvo did the unexpected by playing tracks hardcore A&B fans like myself weren’t expecting to hear. Of course, the track “Alchemy” always brings tears to my eye due to the personal connotation attached to the track and hearing it live doesn’t compare to the impact it makes through my Sony earphones. I couldn’t resist singing “it was alchemy, you sing to me your freedom song, to make love where there was none.” As the night progressed, I received my daily dose of Group Therapy with tracks like “On My Way to Heaven,” “Thing Called Love,” “Black Room Boy,” and “Love Is Not Enough.” Phew!

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I swore my senses were going to hit overload at the barricade when I didn’t have enough space to dance by spinning around in circles with my hands in the air. Above & Beyond brings out this liberating sensation within that words can’t describe for others to understand but considering their the men who started it all, who changed my life and created my addiction to trance music standing still during their set is completely unacceptable, it’s impossible to not dance. Then “Sun & Moon” dropped as the visuals of the sun glared on the mega screen and every voice within the Oracle Arena screamed and yelled with excitement. No, this isn’t the moment when I cried but as I looked around in the crowd just witnessing the smiling faces, couples hugging as if their in a romance movie, and people with their arms lifting high in the air nothing compares to that moment until A&B dropped “Can’t Sleep.” The unexpected track, the last track I expected to hear on NYE. “Can’t Sleep” is the first song I’ve ever heard by A&B, it’s the first track that introduced my connection to trance music, and it’s the first track that motivated me to purchase Tri-State. As I screamed “Oh My God!” and started crying, I literally screamed the lyrics with the biggest smile on my face, “if I said I want you back, I’d be a liar, there’s nothing left of us to long for anymore.” Ugh. It’s the one moment I continue to replay within the depths of my mind and smile to myself because I honestly thought I would never have the chance to hear “Can’t Sleep,” live. Wait, it didn’t end there, “On A Good Day,” the song I always listen to when my life seems to get hectic and I need to find a peaceful place to think, I escape mentally when I hear “On A Good Day.” Then the third round of tears started to pour and I found myself receiving hugs from complete strangers as I cried like a baby but words can’t express the impact Above & Beyond continue to make within my life and I can’t wait to see them in 2013.


Dash Berlin arrived to the Oracle Arena ready to throw down and continue the party vibe lingering amongst the crowd. His stage presence never ceases to amaze me because he completely invests every limb of his body during his sets. Of course, he dropped his dynamic tracks like “Silence in Your Heart,” “Better Half of Me,” “Waiting,” and “Man on the Run” which erupted the singing voice within to sing along with the rest of the crowd. Yet thy favorite moments of his set consisted of dropping “Apollo Road” with ATB due to the piano melody within the track that creates a calm aura then drops into trance heaven of heavy synths. Of course, the New Year countdown which occurred during Dash Berlin’s dynamic set. As the clock hit midnight, with the crowd ringing in 2013, with couples hugging and kissing. Dash Berlin drops his rendition of Tupac’s “California Love,” a track that continues to earn Dash Berlin endless kudo points but damn that song can make a kid in a wheelchair rage like no other.


Finally, Ferry Corsten hit the stage. Although during Above & Beyond I found myself in tears three times, Ferry Corsten performed a beautiful set consisting of his dynamic tracks like “Not Coming Down,” “Made of Love,” “Live Forever,” and “Punk.” By the time Ferry Corsten hit the stage it seemed as if the crowed started to calm down and welcome the precious vibes of happiness Ferry Corsten continued to create. During his set I found myself completely happy standing still with my eyes closed just listening. The track “Made of Love,” featuring the live vocals of Bestie Larkin, wow, another favorite moment of the night. Honestly, her voice harmonizes beautifully amongst a crowd of screaming ragers but the melody with “Made of Love” created goose bumps on the skin. Then transition into hearing Porter Robinson’s “Language” which is a compliment to Robinson having a trance legend drop your track during his set. Now it seems like a show wouldn’t be the same without hearing “Language” but the topping to my night was hearing “Live Forever,” which consists of my favorite lyrics “Turn out the lights, turn up the bass, I wanna be front and center” due to the simple fact that it describes my entire New Years Eve.


Overall, the night went beautifully until the Oracle Arena’s staff of employees continued to find themselves killing the vibe of attendees. Arriving early continues to a blessing in disguise due to the fact countless attendees had issues getting down to the floor which consisted of General Admission but due to the Arena’s lack of paying attention, it completely hindered the placing of people. In addition, I found myself getting into a mini debate with an Oracle employee about keeping the top to my $6.50 bottled water. It seems the Oracle Arena has a hidden agenda against bottle tops because NO ONE could keep the tops to their drinks which caused endless problems especially for myself when the entrance to the main floor got completely overcrowded and someone under the influence (use your imagination) hit my bottle and I spilled half my drink. Yes, I was completely pissed. Other than that, each artist delivered a dynamic set that set the tone to 2013. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate the end of 2012, the beginning of 2013 than with my fellow bay area trance family.

Happy New Years!

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