A State of Trance in Utrecht, Netherlands (2020)

I've been to a few Trance events, like the Armin Only concerts. In early 2020 there has been a large festival with A State of Trance (ASOT) Episode 950 in Utrecht. Together with a friend I bought tickets and went there.

My sleep cycle usually has me spending the hours from like 23:00 to 06:00 in bed. Going to a concert which goes from 22:00 to 06:00 was going to be quite exhausting for somebody who is not nocturnal. I tried to sleep in but could only get to 10:00, so it was going to be around a 24 hour shift.

© OpenStreetMap contributors. Tiles courtesy of Andy Allan.

While riding the train to Aachen I was lucky that there were not too many loud people there. The Karneval season was almost at full strength, the main days did not officially start until the week after. It is always amazing how inefficient people can be when boarding the train and not letting the other people exit. It is funny when the same people later complain that the train is late. I did not bring the noise canceling headphones as I was going to get enough music during this weekend.

At the station at Eindhoven there was a billboard saying that 45 % of the travelers take the bike to the train station. Compare that to Bonn which has a rather low number of bike spots at the station. In Utrecht they have multiple large bike garages at the station and even more in the vicinity of the main station. I guess Bonn will never become a bike city by Dutch (or Danish) standards.

From the Armin Only in Amsterdam I learned that they won't let you bring in any food or drinks into the event hall. This time I brought only some stuff for the train ride. As I did not want to chug my backpack around, I wanted to find out whether they had lockers or a reception. An email to the event hall company went unanswered, and via a newsletter Chris found out that you could book a locker. They charged 10 EUR for a large locker. The size was described as "fits four jackets", which is super unhelpful. The luggage lockers at Utrecht Centraal were a bit cheaper, but also more inconvenient. We decided to book a locker in advance. I was already prepared that I would have to buy tokens and now bring any food, but having to pay another 10 EUR for a locker reminded me why I don't do this sort of thing often.

At the venue I realized that my hiking backpack would not fit into the large locker. So I went to the locker info booth and was told that I should go to the other locker info booth. At that booth they told me to buy another locker ticket (11 EUR) for the backpack alone. There were no sensible other options, so I just took that one.

After storing our stuff we went through the security. They did not say anything about the caffeine I brought, guess they don't do drug controls there.

Initially I thought that this event would be just Armin van Buuren, but since it is A State of Trance, there are various DJs playing. And not only that, they had five stages:

  • Mainstage
  • Who is afraid of 138?
  • Psytrance
  • Progressive
  • Road to 1000

We walked around the venue and took in the various stages and the music that they had to offer. I was looking for something more melodic and not just pure bass stuff. Unfortunately they were all pretty much the same. In general I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoy the same tracks at home. There they played the club mixes, and the bass was way too much. They did not play many melodic tracks and it felt more like hardstyle than the soft trance that I prefer.

In order to get food and water we needed to buy tokens. They actually had a free water fountain to use, which I found rather surprising. There was a ASOT water bottle with unlimited refills for 5 tokens. And one could only buy the tokens in multiples of 5 for 15 EUR, so one token is 3 EUR. We ended up buying a plastic water bottle for 1 token and just filled it up at the fountain. At around 04:00 one employee was guarding the water fountain and limited it to the ASOT bottles where you bought the unlimited refill plan. Unfortunately for her there was a bathroom right around the corner with unsupervised faucets. A piece of pizza was 1.5 tokens (4.50 EUR), a hot dog 2.5 tokens (7.50 EUR). I bumped into people holding a full sheet of tokens, perhaps like 20 of them. That's 60 EUR to spend on fast food and beverages.

The best act was Rank 1, they only played for 30 minutes but had the most melodic stuff and also played "Airwave", which was really great! I was in the mood and pumped, most people on the floor had a real blast.

We left a bit before closing time to avoid the rush at the exit gates. Then we just had three hours to kill at the train station until we could hop into our respective trains home.

© OpenStreetMap contributors. Tiles courtesy of Andy Allan.

The ICE arrived on time in Utrecht and I found the compartment that I had reserved a seat in. Once seated I have used the comfort check-in feature such that they do not need to see your ticket any more. Unfortunately this does not work with the Dutch railway (NS), so the conductor from German railway (DB) still needed to wake me up since we did not have cleared the border at the time she was at the compartment.

With a closed compartment door, earplug and quiet other passengers I managed to doze off for short intervals and was actually sleeping when we got close to Cologne. I heard my alarm ringtone and excused myself to the other passengers but I needed it to get off the train. The thing I noticed right after was the train conductor telling us that due to delays the connection to the EC on track 7 would not be possible and people that wanted to take it should just stay in the ICE until Mannheim. That does not help me at all as I needed to go to Bonn. So I looked up alternative connections and found the RB to Bonn on track 9 section D-G. We had arrived on track 6, so I needed to run to track 9 and barely made it to section D-G. There was already some other IC in that section and as I stopped running and panting there was a speaker announcement saying that the RB would stop in section A-C. Well, I quickly walked back to the beginning of the platform to take that train. Taking trains in Germany quickly spirals into a challenge once you have to do a transfer. Well, I was pretty awake after that unwanted running.

In total I think that it was a fun trip, but not really worth it. The music was rather not like an Armin Only concert but merely a night club which endless droning of bass. I also could not tell apart the different styles on the stages and also the various DJs did not really make a difference. When listening to the various DJ's works at home they certainly have their own styles.