Almost exactly one year ago, Toronto's famed Guvernment nightclub shut its doors for good. The star-studded lineup of performers during the venue's final week included Deadmau5, and Armin Van Buuren delivering a six-hour marathon set. His presence there was no surprise, given Toronto's deep-rooted history with trance.
With supportive enclaves like the TranceAddict community (which still operates its quirky web 1.0 style forum to this day), both Montreal and Toronto have been hugely supportive of the genre. Van Buuren's own legacy in Toronto is also significant. In 2010, he celebrated 450 episodes of his A State Of Trance radio show inside the main room of the Guvernment complex.
Six years and 300 episodes later, Armin's radio show hasn't slowed down one bit, kicking off the ASOT festival on January 30 in Toronto with a whole new generation of trance fans.
"Toronto is one of the capitals of the world for trance music," Van Buuren asserted, speaking to THUMP before his set this past weekend at the Enercare Centre.
"The scene is now a lot bigger," he says. "What I'm most grateful for is that there are a lot of young people that joined the community. That's better than selling out events; it means a new generation is digging ASOT, which is the whole point of it all."
The Dutch DJ has kept an eye on Canadian producers as well. At this weekend's show in Toronto, Montreal-based producer Solid Stone (a.k.a. Elias Barouche) kicked off the event, which was the first ASOT gig of his career. Armin has been working Solid Stone's music—which falls between techno, progressive house, and trance deeply rooted in Montreal's afterhours scene—into his sets as well.
For that, Barouche is forever grateful. "Armin is a huge trance icon, so I definitely get a lot of inspiration from him," he says. "I think this gig has topped all others I've played so far; definitely something I'll remember for a very long time."
Giving exposure to new talent is something that Van Buuren has done for years. Although curated listening experiences like Beats 1 Radio and Apple Radio have steadily gained in popularity, it is a format that trance fans have already appreciated for years. Van Buuren's own show has become a pillar of his brand—with ASOT dating back to 2001, when it was being broadcasted on ID&T Radio.
"I thought episode 500 was going be a good moment to stop the radio show," says Van Buuren. "I don't continue to broadcast for the sake of reaching higher numbers, I do it because of the music."
Van Buuren's passion for the show translates well to his audience, and ASOT has become, arguably, the premiere experience for trance fans. Torontonians campaigned relentlessly to bring back ASOT since 2010, and though their efforts were unsuccessful in 2014, seeing the event finally make its return has been a reward worth the wait.
Ani Hajderaj is on Twitter.