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Dreamstate SoCal 2018–A Tour of my Raving Twenties

by Tigerlily

When the lineup for Dreamstate SoCal dropped, my jaw hit the floor.  It was like someone had gone through my old school rave flyers (yes I kept them) and created my dream trance lineup.  So when Fresh Music Freaks asked if I wanted to cover Insomniac’s purely trance festival November 23rd and 24th at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, my response was a resounding YAAAAAAASSSSSS!  Though I won’t be rocking the JNCO’s and tube tops I once favored, this year’s Dreamstate SoCal will be like a tour of my raving 20’s.


First on the tour is Paul Van Dyk, and if you’ve never seen him, DO NOT miss him at Dreamstate SoCal!  I don’t give a fuck what else is conflicting.  PVD has been in my top 5 DJ producers since I heard For An Angel at a German club in 2000.  Where most DJs have off nights (they’re human after all), in the MANY times I’ve seen him, he’s never let me down.  But then I moved back to Hawaii, a black hole for electronic music, and didn’t see him again for 8 years.  So when a friend mentioned his near-fatal fall from stage in 2016, the day before I was to see him at Paradiso, I had to wonder if his skills and performance would be the same.  The answer you were looking for is YES–Paul Van Dyk is and always will be a trance god.  He dropped one of the fiercest sets I’ve ever heard or seen in front of a sunset backdrop with lightning and sheets of rain over the Gorge that set me on fire.  His new productions are rife with reminders of his brush with death.  From 2017’s Touched By Heaven and I Am Alive, to last month’s Music Rescues Me, one can’t deny that he’s an artist that can take life’s hardships and spin them into elegant and evocative tracks every bit as phenomenal as his early works.

Next up on my Dreamstate SoCal take-me-back-to-my-20’s list is BT, whose 1999 Movement in Still Life album was one of the first electronic CDs I bought.  It’s an album jam-packed with guest appearances, a sample from Grandmaster Flash, and it combined different genres that at the time didn’t seem to go together.  I know I could never forget that final “pretty English girls named Chariiiiiiiiisssssseeeee” with BT laughing at the end of Never Gonna Come Back Down.  His ability to jump genres got him noticed by Hollywood where he started writing for string quartets and scoring movies like Go and The Fast and the Furious.  Fast forward to 2015 where his Kickstarter campaign raised $200k for Electronic Opus, a symphonic reimagination of his biggest hits, including Tiesto’s Love Comes Again which features BT on vocals and his dance anthem Flaming June.  I look forward to hearing BT mix genres seamlessly in a single set, a skill that’s rarely done well these days.

Paul Van Dyk
Paul Van Dyk | Photo Credit Insomniac
BT | Photo Credit Insomniac

Cosmic Gate is the next stop on the tour of my early rave days with their 2001 hard trance Rhythm & Drums album.  The pounding Fire Wire and unmistakable Exploration of Space were instant classics I heard at almost every show for years.  As the best artists always do, Cosmic Gate evolved and matured over the years moving into progressive trance by the time they released their 2011 Wake Your Mind album.  It featured beautiful vocals by the likes of Emma Hewitt on the oh so popular Be Your Sound.  The success of Wake Your Mind transitioned into a banging weekly podcast bearing the same title.  And with the release of Materia in 2017 followed by a worldwide tour, the duo have shown they’re just as relevant today as they were when I first saw them in a dingy warehouse outside Seattle.  Best believe you’ll find me dancing my face off to Cosmic Gate at Dreamstate SoCal!

For those who know me, I have no problem whatsoever being a total goofball in public, so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done a wacky robot dance to Ferry Corsten’s 2003 hit Rock Your Body, Rock.  As a teenager, Ferry faithfully listened to The Soulshow, a Dutch radio show that played electronic hits alongside disco and soul.  You can hear the influence that had on him in his 2004 remix of Stonebridge’s Freak On.  Three years later, Ferry debuted his weekly radio show Corsten’s Countdown, released Beautiful, and was given the title King of Crossover, a nod to his L.E.F. (Loud Electronic Ferocious) album and style.  Not one to stagnate, Ferry created numerous aliases over the years which allowed him to play in different styles.  We’ll be getting System F at Dreamstate SoCal, a nom de plume for the systematic producer side of Ferry that focuses on melody first and then fills in everything else.  Having never seen Ferry as System F, the musically trained part of me can’t wait to hear the swelling chords and tones we’re guaranteed with that moniker.  I’m personally hoping he’ll hit me Out of the Blue at Dreamstate SoCal with Cry.

Cosmic Gate | Photo Credit Insomniac
Ferry Corsten
Ferry Corsten | Photo Credit Insomniac
Solarstone | Photo Credit Insomniac

Unlike everyone else on this list, I’ve never seen Solarstone, though I’ve heard his iconic tracks spun by some of my favorite trance artists over the years.  So I will NOT miss him at Dreamstate SoCal!!!  Whether or not you’re familiar with the name, if you listen to trance, you’ll recognize his tracks.  Like his 2002 anthem Solarcoaster, considered one of the top vocal trance tracks of all time, featuring lines from one of the best movies ever, True Romance.  And he’s stayed in the top echelons of trance producers by changing with the times.  His 2012 The Spell was featured on almost every trance podcast in that year and he just kept dropping hits.  In 2017 it was I Found You, remixed by Giuseppe Ottaviani (also on the Dreamstate SoCal lineup) and this year he’s released several singles guaranteed to be hits.  What I love most about him is I can hear a track like this year’s Motif in a mix and think “DAMN!  I love this!  Who the hell is it?!?”  And sure enough, there’s Solarstone!

As we find ourselves at the end of the tour of my raving 20’s, I can’t help but miss those days.  The dirty warehouse raves, word of mouth after parties, and the many walks of shame past businessmen in suits as I’m rockin’ my balloon pants and Kandi.  So if you recognize my old school dancing style out on the floor, come say hi and let’s exchange stories about the days of vinyl.  But like every DJ producer on this list, we stay relevant by always looking forward.  GUARANTEED I’ll be wowed by the stages, performances, lighting, sound, and overall production of Dreamstate SoCal.  And who knows, maybe Insomniac hits me with something even I can’t find in my wildest dreams…

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