Walking into The Guvernment never loses it’s charm. The dark main room with fog machines and the Guv horn going off, the sound of trance blasting through the speakers, and the crowd already dancing up a storm – the days are ticking until this iconic club closes down in 2015. It’s going to be a star studded countdown to that last show, and the lineup includes iconic DJ Paul Van Dyk.
The Guvernment is one of those clubs that either amazes you or annoys you. There’s little in-between, and lately it has been a lot of the latter. The talent seems to have been weakening while the number of sweaty bros has been overwhelmingly rising. I was worried that I was becoming part of the “glory days” group who couldn’t appreciate where Guv has moved to, but Friday night was a refreshing return to form. The club may have had some misses lately, but Paul van Dyk was a step back to a simpler time where the music reigned.
Arriving to the club at 11:30, I was just in time to see Shelley Johannson throw down some beautiful uplifting trance. “Hey Now” – London Grammar (Arty remix) was soothing the main room as I said hi to some friends. If you’ve been lucky enough to catch Shelley at Toika, Mod Club, or on an Ozmosis boat cruise, you’d know this isn’t her normal sound. She usually throws down the grimiest techno and she can put on a hell of a psytrance set. It all depends on which DJ she’s opening for, but you can tell her skill as a DJ is incredible. She molds to whomever she is opening for and pulls off a seamless transition.
To warm us up for Paul van Dyk, she kept things simple and on point. She played slower tracks like “At Night” – Shakedown (Shiney remix) before hitting us with “Ping Pong” – Armin van Buuren (Tom Staar & Kryder remix) and “Stuck In Sa Calenta” – Artificial. Closing out her set, she brought it back down with “Need To Feel Loved” – Reflekt (Adam K & Soha vocal mix), to perfectly set the stage for the faster trance we were about to hear.
It was finally time to hear the sounds of the legend himself. Paul van Dyk eased into his set with “Say Another What” – Ganix & Las Salinas. He was headbanging and whiping sweat off his head as he continuously hit the crowd with a mix of classic trance, like his own track “Time Of Our Lives”. He mixed in “Something New” – Tritonal ft. Jenry R[,] and didn’t skip out on the true fan favourites,like “Home” – Paul van Dyk.
The crowd was loving Paul van Dyk the entire time. Everyone had their hands up, glowsticks out, with most of the crowd cheering and singing along the entire time. Even at the back of the club, you were struck with lights and sound. The whole set was bittersweet feeling for your eardrums, with beautiful melodies being offset with pounding bass.
It wasn’t a surprise when he closed out with the song we had all been waiting for: “I Don’t Deserve You” – Paul van Dyk ft. Plumb. It was nearly impossible to hear the lyrics as the entire crowd sang along, but we didn’t mind–We were shouting it from the top of our lungs too. It was an epic finish that topped off one of the most perfect trance sets I’ve had the honor of hearing live.
This past March I got to see sets with hundreds of thousands of people at Ultra Music Festival, but the energy at Guv was something different than that. It wasn’t just the charge of sheer numbers and excitement, it was the electric connection between a crowd and a DJ who was playing for them, and with them. The crowd was captivated in a way that often only Markus Schulz can often do in his marathon progressive sets, bringing his fans on a journey through powerful music. In just two hours, Paul van Dyk kept us hanging onto his every move while saying a bittersweet goodbye to The Guvernment.
I may have missed Party Favors’ opening set before Shelley, but they closed out the night with some deeper, techy tracks. A perfect way to slow down the evening as I walked out past all the sweaty Guvernment fans who weren’t going to be leaving till dawn.