Saturday began with waking up early and and getting a backpack full of festival essentials including a towel, extra t-shirt and a handful of other things. Arriving at Penn Station on Saturday was unlike I’ve ever seen it before, there were more people there than a season opener for a Jets or Giants game. It was packed full of fellow ravers, guys decked out in neon clothing, sunglasses, and catchy t-shirts while the girls appeared to be wearing as little clothing as possible, mostly bathing suit tops and booty shorts, which i always entertaining. Once the track was announced, the rush to the train was like a stampede of people swarming into BestBuy on Black Friday; the madness was insane.
Once all the seats were taken, the isles began to fill in until there was no more room. After a 30-minute ride to the stadium, everyone ran off of the train like it was on fire. We ran up to the entrance only to be greeted by a sea of people already waiting in line. You could feel the bass from each one of the four stages, pounding the parking lot concrete, where the majority of the festival took place. The rumble sounded like it was an earthquake, but it’s NY and we don’t get earthquakes, except for the one last summer. The line to enter only took about 20 minutes, but felt like hours. Once we passed through the security, we were free to run within the confines of the stadium and its parking lots. The smiles on people’s faces are unforgettable; it was a surreal feeling walking into the heart of the festival; something I’ll never forget.
We began our day meeting up with friends at the “Snoopy Statue”, which is MetLife’s mascot. It was a great central meeting point, located in between the parking lot and MetLife Stadium. It was also one of the only places you had cell phone service, so finding people proved almost impossible anywhere else.
With the crew all gathered we immediately made our way to the main stage, where Chris Lake was performing. The time was 2 PM, and we were ready to rage. He put on an hour and fifteen minute set that really got the crowd off to a good start, playing bangers from artists like Tommy Trash, Afrojack, MGMT, Sunnery James, and Hard Rock Sofa. It was the perfect beginning to a crazy day. Being excited to check out the rest of the festival grounds, I wasn’t even able to stay for the entire set.
Cazzette also performed on the main stage (kineticFIELD), so I didn’t have too far to travel. The DJ duo who wears giant cassette like masks are an instant attraction to anyone who hasn’t seen them before. You think Deadmau5’s helmet is cool, wait til’ you see these two. I know I wasn’t going anywhere since I’ve never seen them perform, and let me tell you, they put on a killer show. Seeing both of them up there mixing in their giant masks instantly electrified the crowd, even more so than Chris Lake. They opened with Dada Life’s Rolling Stone T-Shirt, and even threw in Rihanna’s “Where have you been”, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Niggas in Paris”, and the rarely played “Levels” by Avicii. Needless to say, Cazzette absolutely murdered it, and closed out the mid-afternoon set with two of their own tracks: “The Rat” and “Blood Theme”.
Having seen Alesso in Chicago at The Mid, I knew he was an artist I wasn’t going to miss. Since he played on the main stage, it was easily the most crowded set thus far, with a nice long set time from 4:30 – 6:00 PM. He instantly transitioned into one of my favorite tracks – “Unison” (Knife Party Remix), which made the crowd go absolutely nuts. He went on to play another 20 tracks, including mixes from David Guetta, Mike Snow, Nero, Deniz Koyu, James Blunt, Michael Woods, and plenty others. Since it was still light out, Alesso’s light show wasn’t too intense, but his set made up for the lack of visual effects.
I rushed over to the cicruitGROUNDS tent hosted by A State of Trance (ASOT), to see John O’Callaghan, known as being as one of the best trance DJs. The circuitGROUNDS stage was a massive half-cylinder shaped tent with two 100 foot long VIP stages raised about 20 feet above the floor, and was lined with an impressive array of lights running the entire length of the tent, lighting up the sky from miles away. O’Callaghan was the first trance DJ I saw that day, and the vibe was completely different from the main stage where the house DJs had played. The music was intense, with nonstop bass hits throughout his entire 75-minute set. He played tracks from all the favorites, opening with Protoculture, and continued with Paul van Dyk, Lange, DJ Kim, and even dropped “Serenity” by the one and only Armin van Buuren.
I made a quick dash back to Alesso to see him close out his set, but immediately returned to ASOT Tent to see Gareth Emery make some noise. The crowd was stoked to see Emery, and was much more crowded than I had expected. It was almost impossible to get to the front at this point, as the trance tent had already engulfed at least half of the festival goers. Emery opened with his own track “The Saga” and remained relentless in his goal of giving the crowd as much seductive trance as possible. He absolutely killed it, spinning tracks from Jack Holiday, Ferry Corsten, Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto, and a killer mix of Paradise and Antidote by Coldplay and SHM. I was extremely impressed to say the least.
At this point I was really makin’ moves around the festival; I probably walked about five miles at this point from stage to stage. The next stop was back at the main stage for Calvin Harris, who drew a crowd that rivaled Alesso. Since it was only 6 PM at this point the sun was still up and people were still rolling in by the thousands. Calvin opened with his own track with Hardwell, titled “I’m Not Alone”, and the crowd went WILD. This was possibly the craziest and most intense set since I arrived, with hard and heavy drum and bass, playing tracks by Zedd, Skrillex, Nero, Nicky Romero, and Laidback Luke, which was only a small subset of his 24 track set. One thing about Calvin’s performance was his lack excitement, the entire set he appeared to be unhappy and never smiled. Thankfully, it didn’t effect his performance. Having never seen Erick Morillo, I decided to only stay for the beginning half of Calvin’s performance.
The last time I was in the brand new MetLife Stadium was for the New York Jets season opener last year. The transformation was astounding, and standing on the rubber tiles that laced the 80,000 person stadium was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Looking up from field level made you feel almost famous, even though the real star was on the massive stage, beneath the spotlight and the dimming night sky. Erick put on an amazing two hour set, immersing the massive stadium with his Columbian inspired house music, and followed up the night with his after party appearance at Pacha NYC in Manhattan.
Having seen Sebastian perform twice in the same night back in December with his two SHM partners, Axwell and Steve Angello, I knew I couldn’t miss his performance. I rushed over to Ingrosso as quickly as possible, and boy was I glad I made it. The crowd was easily the biggest up until now, and the night had quickly fallen upon the parking lot at MetLife stadium. Now the real fun begins, with a light show that would be visible from NYC, 12 miles away. Sebastian stole the hearts of New Yorkers, playing tons of Swedish House tracks, like “Greyhound”, “Antidote”, “Calling”, “One”, and closing with “Save the World”, which made the crowd go absolutely nuts. His transitions were seamless, which enabled you to continue your shuffle all throughout the hour and a half set. He also surprised me with some heavier beats, possibly just for this show, by playing tracks by DubVision, Steve Aoki, and “The End” by Tommy Trash, which is always a crowd pleaser.
It was already 9 PM and there were still four more two-hour sets to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, I’d only end up making it to three, with the first being the infamous Avicii. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, he played Levels, but it was a banger, and the crowd loved it. One of the most impressive things about Avicii’s performance is his light show, which rivals only the best DJs. It’s clear he’s spent a lot of time with his light crew to compile a sequence that is spot on. It also helps when you incorporate flame throwers and fireworks, but not everyone has that luxury. In his two hour set he dropped just under 30 tracks, ranging from Red Hot Chili Peppers (which I heard 3 times that day) to Deadmau5, who I really didn’t hear that much of. I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t have his new cube stage with him like he did at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, but that was probably because it takes 30 minutes to set up, something that wasn’t possible with an 11 PM end time. Oh well, the set was still good, even though I didn’t stay for the entire time. I had moves to make, so onto the next one I went.
I then made the schlep back inside the stadium to see Steve Angello, Swedish House member #2 of the day. I’m sad to say that I wasn’t too impressed. Maybe it was because I saw Sebastian Ingrosso on the main stage or maybe because I was eager to get back to A State of Trance tent to see Armin van Buuren. Whatever the reason, Angello didn’t completely disappoint, and I’m pretty sure the crowd was satisfied since the stadium had the biggest crowd I had seen all day. Night time inside the stadium was sick, with the stars lighting up the sky like a ceiling of tiny LED’s. Of course the light show that Angello has is absurd, and the EDC on stage performers didn’t hurt his cause either.
Armin van Buuren
It was time. Quite possibly the most anticipated artist of the day: Armin van Buuren. Let me start off by saying that walking over to the tent was intoxicating, and I think I even ran to see him. I could feel the bass pounding all the way from the stadium, a couple hundred yards away. Upon arriving I tried to make my way to the front, but it was next to impossible. Tens of thousands were packed into the tent, all jumping up and down in unison; an indescribable sight that had to be seen. I attempted to make my way up to the raised VIP stages for a better view, but they were already at capacity, so I was forced to remain on the main floor with the sea of people going nuts. Armin’s two hour set was intense and real dirty, but his transitions definitely weren’t his best. Fortunately, the tracks he played made up for it, dropping some sick beats from Shogun, Invalyd, Dash Berlin, Omnia & IRA, and Laura Jansen. He closed with his own track “In and Out of Raw Deal”.
Day 2 Wrap-Up:
As the day and night came to a close, I was saddened and happy at the same time. It was a killer second, but I definitely needed to rest up for another round on Sunday. As a flood of exhausted ragers slowly crawled their way towards the NJ transit trains to make their way back to the city, the thumping bass and bright lights slowly faded. I wasn’t worried though, as I knew a short 12 hours from now I’d be back right where I was for another day of one of the greatest EDM experiences in the country.
Written By: Jason Moss