When going to a concert, an important element for a good show is good visuals — something you can see at the show that you cannot necessarily get from listening to the music at home.
A good visual experience is a pleasure for any type of show, and Paul van Dyk reminded dancers that it is no less true for a DJ concert, particularly a good trance performance. Awash in a beautiful digital screen that enveloped his booth, PvD was incredibly effective at matching visuals to sound at Echostage Saturday night.
Take for example an extended mix of Linkin Park’s “Burn It Down” — a surprising selection to me personally from the start considering the metal roots of the California-based band. But PvD was more interested in keeping things fresh than dealing with labels. His hands-on remix of “Burn It Down” not only meshed seamlessly with the rest of his set but came with a stunning visual display as well. Flames engulfed the screen in which he sat from floor to ceiling.
PvD himself was a sight to behold as he worked his gear, mixing and matching different beats into different songs with gusto. At times, he would frenetically perform a mix and then cheer the crowd on triumphantly. At other times, he would dance in his booth when an extended song played. In PvD’s case, the DJ also is clearly a showman.
Original mixing by PvD was peppered with samples from recent dancefloor hits like “Llove” by Kaskade and “Antidote” by Swedish House Mafia. He played tracks like “Everywhere” from his newly released sixth studio album, Evolution, and he embraced his own back catalog with crowd-pleasers like “For An Angel.”
This was my first visit to the mammoth Echostage, a young concert venue that bills itself as DC’s largest. It was comfortably more than half full, a good turnout on a lazy DC Thanksgiving weekend and a testament to PvD’s selling power. Hardcore admirers who wanted to feel like they were part of the show pressed close to the stage in tight ranks, leaving open space in the rear of the warehouse, where free spirited dancers could break out all kinds of moves — and generally did so as their spirits moved them. The two VIP lounges offered plenty of elbow room but the tables for bottle service were mostly full, suggesting business wasn’t so bad.
All in all, it was a warm welcome for trance veteran van Dyk, who shows no signs of slowing down in DJing, mixing, recording or broadcasting — clearly a good thing for electronic dance music in general and trance specifically as PvD brings class and elegance to a scene that occasionally embraces upstarts driven more by gimmicks than talent.
PvD embarks on showdates throughout Europe and Asia for the rest of the year starting this week, but catch him the next time he’s stateside, particularly if you have a taste for the melodic crescendos that serve as a hallmark for this master of his genre.