When Armin van Buuren announced the performance of his GAIA project at this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event, (ADE), the hearts of the entire trance family skipped a beat. This was definitely a show that cannot be missed by the purest of trance fans - especially since a lot of new GAIA tracks from the upcoming album were likely to be premiered. It was no surprise that the show in the legendary Paradiso venue in Amsterdam sold out in five minutes.
GAIA used to be a producer-only alias of Armin and his producing partner, Benno de Goeij - who is one half of another trance duo, Rank 1. After releasing many legendary trance classics like "Tuvan," "Status Excessu D," "Aisha," and "J’ai Envie De Toi," GAIA debuted as a live show on the A State of Trance stage at Ultra Music Festival 2014 in Miami.
The huge popularity of GAIA originally comes from their penchant for fusing pure melodies and dreamy breakdowns with exhilarating drive. That drive was missing according to many fans that witnessed the brand new Moons of Jupiter show at this year’s ADE.
Armin and Benno chose to incorporate not only the GAIA signature sound into their new show, but also some deep but melodic techno. While such buildups are common within the trance community and during performances by Armin himself, GAIA might have placed undue emphasis on that part of their set. Afterwards disappointed fans searched for a place to vent their frustrations, which they found in the comments section of the offial Facebook event page.
Not all the comments posted to the the Armin van Buuren Facebook page were positive the next day, either. Armin acknowledged in his ADE vlog that it was pretty quiet with online reviews the day after the show, which is usually not the best sign.
The fans' disappointment basically comes down to two related things. Firstly, many fans were expecting a pure Trance GAIA performance similar to GAIA's performances in the past, while they ended up with the first hour full of deep Techno. And secondly, people were complaining about the lack of atmosphere in the crowd, which was probably a result of the difference between the crowd's expectations and the actual set.
The warmup DJ, Tinlicker, perfectly managed to create a great atmosphere with his Anjunabeats-style sounds, but the extensive deep techno buildup of the GAIA set derailed the atmosphere. The buildup eventually gave way to the more traditional GAIA sound, with tracks like "Empire of Hearts" and "In Principio" being played in the last half hour. Eventually, these tracks were received with great pleasure by the packed Paradiso. It later came to light that the crowd hoped to hear more of that during the two-hour set. On the flip side, it could have been the extensive build-up that made the crowd yearn for the classic GAIA sound.
It could be argued that the long buildup succeeded in this regard. When these tracks eventually got played, the crowd’s reaction was amazing and a wave of joy went through the venue. The true fans of such slow-burning sets can therefore definitely find joy in the new GAIA. In addition, experimenting as a DJ/producer is a great way to move yourself and the electronic music industry to higher places. Continuously experimenting with his productions and shows is what ultimately made Armin van Buuren the dance music legend he is today.
On the other hand, it can be concluded that this new show does not sufficiently meet the desires of the original GAIA fans. Being that the warmup DJ got more people moving than GAIA managed to in their first hour must have been rather uncomfortable for Armin and Benno. Considering their 20+ years of experience in the dance music scene, both might want to get back to the drawing board for their GAIA show. They must figure out how to incorporate their new sound, but still get the crowd doing what they came for: to dance until they reach their own trance heaven.