Trance legend Armin van Buuren wrapped up his Balance North America tour last weekend by thanking his production crew and telling fans at the final show that the 13-city road trip “has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me in the United States, thank you so much!”
“There’s so many people that followed me,” Armin said on stage in San Francisco, shared on his Instagram story. “Had a really rough tour because being on a bus, sleeping on the bus, trust me…”.
His words may leave fans wondering: what’s next for the king of trance?
Adoring fans in South America and Asia beyond China, where the tour began in November, would surely love a visit. However, he hasn’t yet announced another tour supporting his seventh studio album. Unsurprisingly, his schedule is booked through August with festivals including his own radio show’s A State of Trance 950 in Utrecht this Saturday.
‘Armin Only’ Balance?
There’s just a sliver of hope that Armin will do a Balance edition of ‘Armin Only,’ his arena-sized shows with dozens of vocalists, live musicians and dancers. Let’s look back at Armin’s last studio album, Embrace. He released it in October 2015 and in February 2016, announced dates for the Armin Only Embrace world tour. The first shows took place that May in Amsterdam and he went as far as Dubai, Australia and Mexico.
He added more Armin Only stops including San Francisco and Los Angeles in February 2017. For the grand finale, he held two special ‘The Best Of Armin Only’ shows in Amsterdam, where the global trek had begun exactly a year prior.
Balance came out in October 2019 and it’s right about this time four years ago that he unveiled the Armin Only Embrace world tour. As amazing as it would be, it seems unlikely he will bring back Armin Only. In his docu-series Armin van Buuren is Mr. Perfect, he says the “best of” show was “the biggest show I’ve ever done,” and “for me, it also represents the end of an era or maybe a new beginning.”
Also, Armin has changed his @arminonly Instagram account to @arminvanbuuren_thisisme. ArminOnly.com now redirects to “The Best Of Armin Only” follow-up of sorts—‘This Is Me,’ a show highlighting his personal journey. Four ‘This Is Me’ shows will take place in May in the “relative intimacy” of the 12,500-capacity Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, versus two shows at the about 50,000-capacity Johan Cruijff ArenA for the “best of.”
Armin says ‘This Is Me’ is “one-time-only.” When they’re done, will he keep opting for more shows at smaller venues, or a fewer number at stadiums and arenas?
“Never Say Never”
A double album with 14 tracks per part, Balance has plenty of potential for large-scale production shows. While Armin brought several vocalists on his North America tour including HALIENE (‘Song I Sing’), there’s an appetite among dance music fans for Armin Only-caliber shows. They are of course expensive and a major scheduling effort, but if not in 2020, maybe in 2021. ‘Never Say Never,’ right?
Doing a worldwide Balance arena tour seems to make sense, but it’s entirely possible and well-deserved for Armin to take a break after the festival season. Judging from his love for music and performing, though, any time off will probably be brief. Rumors that Armin would retire after his “best of” show were quickly laid to rest. If anything, Balance has opened up more musical avenues for him to explore.
Armin struck a balance between his roots and classic feels-inducing vocal tracks like ‘Something Real,’ and experimenting with new sounds that broaden trance’s appeal beyond the genre’s hardcore devotees. In this “new chapter,” as he called it, he’s already found success in the latter. He ended his first show in New York City in January with his signature closer, ‘Blah Blah Blah.’ Then for an explosive “one more song,” Armin had Matluck sing ‘Don’t Let Me Go,’ his uplifting hardstyle track.
Amid his busy schedule with festivals—playing the main slots as usual—Armin will probably release more music including collaborations. Expect him to drop them at Ultra Music Festival in Miami in March, as is the tradition for all artists. (Who remembers when he invited Alan Walker onto Ultra mainstage in 2018? Still waiting for that track to see the light of day…)
Hot off pleasing many trance heads by collaborating with Above & Beyond for ‘Show Me Love,’ Armin could link up with big room trance producers. MaRLo and KhoMha are natural fits since Armin has been incorporating their tracks in a lot of his sets. Armin actually had studio time in 2015 with MaRLo—whose ‘Lighter Than Air‘ won ASOT Tune of the Year 2019—and recently said they’ve been “talking about (collaborating) for a long time.”
Having dabbled in progressive house with ‘Sunny Days‘ and ‘I Need You,’ Armin could work with a house producer. A perfect candidate would be Lost Frequencies, who’s signed on Armin’s Armada Music record label, remixed ‘In And Out Of Love‘ twice and shown support for Balance.
Given Armin’s past collaborations with big room EDM duos W&W and Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike, it could be electrifying to see Armin team up with trumpet-playing electro house star Timmy Trumpet, who does some psytrance.
Back to Balance, Armin has already released remixes Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 by other producers. How about his own reworks? Perhaps club mixes of relatively mellow ‘All Comes Down’ and ‘Something Real,’ which is also begging for an acoustic version.
These are all just predictions or rather, wishful thinking, but one thing is certain: never underestimate Armin van Buuren and his moves.