Gaia’s Legendary First Live Performance: Five Tracks You Need to Know
Gaia's Legendary First Live Performance: Five Tracks You Need to Know
At 8:30pm on the final day of Ultra Music Festival, those present in the A State of Trance: New Horizons Mega Structure bore witness to trance history. A mysterious otherworldly energy was in the air. Two large, hooded figures appeared side by side dressed in futuristic monk-like robes. Through the speakers, an ominous voice moaned, tribal drums began, and the chilling drone of a church bell echoed through the arena. Heads down, laptops and controllers at the ready, the set began. What transpired was the first ever live performance of Armin van Buuren and studio partner Benno de Goeij…otherwise known, together, as Gaia. The two trance legends ultimately created one of the most memorable and talked about experiences of the whole Ultra weekend – here are five essential tracks you need to know from their set.
Gaia - ID
With scenes of eerie classical Roman imagery looming tall behind them, the duo immediately opened with an a new unheard production – an appropriate way to launch one of the most anticipated live debuts of an electronic act in history. Soaring synths and breathtaking drums indicated the touch of Gaia, but regardless of creator, the song was primarily a powerful indicator of what lay ahead. Through it all, the pair on stage remained standing strangely still, as if they were statues. Interestingly, initially, so did the crowd. Perhaps it was the massive anticipation of the world’s most mythical trance twosome, or perhaps it was the menacing glare of the holographic eyes of the actual statues on the screen above Armin Van Buuren and Benno de Goeij. It was as if everyone present had just seen an alien mothership land on stage. In fairness, rightly so…for true trance fans, this was an important moment in time: The gods of trance were among the living. As Gaia transformed song after song into one almost breathing set, it was clear that everyone was along for the ride.
Armin van Buuren presents Gaia - Humming The Lights (Original Mix)
With the introduction of a more widely recognized track, “Humming The Lights,” more hands rocketed skywards, and the audience started to truly come alive. In contrast, the hooded figures looking down upon them continued to remain beautifully restrained, despite the relentless energy of the music. As a result of Armin and Benno’s lack of movement on stage, many people in the crowd began to close their eyes and let the music wash over them. Some began to climb on their friends’ shoulders, trying to get closer to the sound and the gods in front of them. Notably, many members of the trance family in attendance began to bow their arms and heads in complete approval and worship. With A State of Trance flags held proudly high, the awed crowd danced onwards.
Gaia - Empire of Hearts (Original Mix)
By now, it had become very clear that Gaia’s intention was to let the music be the focus, and to take the audience on a euphonic journey through some of the most beloved trance songs in recent years. Released in 2013, “Empire Of Hearts” won the hearts of trance fans around the world, and it was only a matter of time before it worked its magic live. The song brought about an intense reaction from the crowd, sparking countless smiles of joy and inspiring a sea of flailing arms and writhing bodies on the arena dance floor. The unstoppable momentum continued into the next few tracks, which hundreds of thousands of people around the world collectively know simply from their melodies, including Jorn Van Deynhoven’s “New Horizons (ASOT 650 Anthem),” and the ASOT 600 Theme, “The Expedition” by Armin Van Buuren and Marcus Schulz. However, no one was prepared for what came next.
Armin van Buuren presents Gaia - J'ai Envie de Toi (Original Mix)
Coming out of Armin’s “Orbion,” another universally familiar string of notes emerged. As the silky French vocals of “J’ai Envie de Toi” whispered into the humid Miami night, shrieks and yells of excitement from the audience pierced the air, and voices in unison sang the theme to the Miami sky. The famous pronounced sharp synth stabs danced up and down, as did hands in the air, playing along with the melody. Only a few times before did either member of Gaia noticeably move at all, but both Armin and Benno began to subtly bob their heads in time to the beat. Keeping their movement in check, they transitioned gracefully into Armin Van Buuren’s electrifying “Pulsar,” fueling quite a bit of jumping from the ASOT fans and plenty of lasers from the stage.
Armin van Buuren feat. Jan Vayne - Serenity (Original Mix)
As the duo’s set drew to a close, it was time for one last anthem. Originally released in 2005, “Serenity” rippled through the crowd and was met by cheers and applause from those in attendance. Confetti danced through the air, but all eyes were on the cloaked twosome on stage, and the flashing images of Earth on the screen. As the music drew to a close, they left the stage in opposite directions, hooded arms crossed in their robe sleeves…and so, Gaia exited.
The Second Coming of Trance
Before Gaia debuted live, Ultra stated that “AvB [as Gaia, would] be taking a purist’s approach…to deliver a set chocked full of nothing but trance.” Weaving between old and new trance classics, Gaia delivered exactly that and then some, in historic fashion. There were no big room drops, no announcements signaling the arrival of the beat, and no microphones. It was purely music and music alone that united the crowd as one that night. A few fans afterwards noted wholeheartedly that it was, “completely religious,” and, an “absolutely spiritual experience.” If in Greek mythology, Gaia is the protector of Earth, then Armin Van Buuren and Benno de Goeij as Gaia are the protectors of trance. Without any shadow of a doubt, as the years go by, this will be one of the most remembered trance sets of all time. Gaia, in one earth-shattering hour and a half of pure trance, gloriously redefined the live set experience. Pray for more live appearances from the trance gods, because this was one legendary night.