Last Night: Paul van Dyk at Arena Theatre

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Paul van Dyk Arena Theatre May 1, 2013

In 1994, Paul van Dyk released a song entitled "For An Angel." Over time it would become a trance anthem, one of the most popular and influential songs to ever come out of the genre.

Flash-forward to 2013. This weekend, thousands of teens and young adults will pack clubs across the world to dance the night away to DJs who weren't even alive when "For An Angel" was released. As for PVD, he's still touring the world bringing his trance epics to a dedicated fans, including a stop Wednesday night at the Arena Theatre.

It was not your typical "EDM" show, but then again a show on a Wednesday night at a venue not known for hosting DJs was never going to be typical. But more than 20 years in the game PVD can afford to do things a little bit differently; the youths may have their whole lives ahead of them, but they don't have the years of collected dance-floor wisdom that PVD has.

Much like the man himself, the crowd was made up of trance-music veterans. This was not a collection of kids coming out to support a scene, these were longtime PVD fans, some who have been making it out to his shows for more than a decade. Arena Theatre isn't the easiest place in the world to dance, but they made the best of the situation.

In return, PVD dropped an infectious set that was spellbinding at times. Sometimes the tunes were driving and frantic, borderline overstimulating. Other times they were lush and expansive, the type of chords and melodies that you want to get lost in.

It wasn't all just a man sitting behind a laptop pushing buttons on a mixer, either. On a few tracks PVD played the lead parts on a keyboard, adding a bit of live showmanship to the tracks he was spinning. You don't have to be a musician to make dance music or be a good DJ, but watching him play was a good reminder that beyond the dance floor he's also a gifted songwriter.

Almost 20 years ago, PVD released his best-known track. Nearly a decade ago, he was considered by many to be the best DJ in the world. And today he's still out there, touring and making music that fits in nicely with the current crop of overactive EDM acts who have broken out over the past three years.

It'll be fascinating to see where he is ten years from now, but wherever he goes the fans are sure to follow.

Personal Bias: Because I didn't get into dance music until much later in life, Paul van Dyk is a name I've always been aware of but haven't able to put a song or sound with. I was ambivalent, at best, going into the show.

The Crowd: Older, multicultural, and conservatively (compared to most dance shows) dressed. Very little neon, few glowsticks, and no furry boots. Think more "dressed up to go get drinks" and less "tonight we rage!"

Overheard In the Crowd: At one point PVD played Above & Beyond's "Sun & Moon" then dropped the volume for what was going to be an amazing singalong to one of the most popular songs in modern trance. And the crowd just butchered it. I'm not sure what happened, but the crowd could just not get it together.

Random Notebook Dump: Not that they aren't all stylish, because they are, but how many logos does Paul van Dyk have?

So How Was The Opener? I don't care if you have to bribe someone for a microphone, if you're a DJ opening a show and your name isn't on the flyer, for the love of god find some way to let us know what your name is. That said, the DJ spinning before PVD came out whose name I don't know was very good, and managed to win over the parts of the crowd eager to dance. Excellent song selection, DJ [insert name here].

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