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For the second year in a row, Blueprint has turned the Easter long weekend into a music filled, multi-day event featuring shows at clubs and venues all around the city. Building on last year’s event at the Vancouver Convention Centre, which featured Calvin Harris, Laidback Luke, Felguk, Lazy Rich, this year they upped the ante considerably. Thursday night was Swedish duo Cazzette at Venue, Friday was AN21 (fellow Swede and brother of Steve Angello) for a free show at Celebrities, while Saturday was at the Convention Centre downtown with Armin Van Buuren, Steve Angello and Morgan Page. Sunday night closed out the weekend with Skrillex-backed KOAN Sound and Gemini at Celebrities.

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Saturday in particular was always going to be the main event, but reports and pictures I checked out from the three other shows confirmed they were all massive. If there’s one thing Blueprint has been excelling at, it’s capitalizing on different genres, and having different shows on different nights for different tastes. Cazzette leans heavily on the electro side of house, while AN21 fills the neuvo-progressive house vibe. Armin is the un-disputed king of trance, whose long reign as the world’s #1 DJ (he’s settling for #2 now) will draw out even quasi-fans, while KOAN Sound and Gemini complete the weekend with a dubstep laced show at celebrities. Business-wise it’s brilliant move, allowing Blueprint to capitalize on every niche market in electronic music.

Steve Angello was a late pullout due to the premature birth of his daughter (there’s a joke in there somewhere), however Jochen Miller was able to slide in on short notice, with Armin adding an extra half hour to his set time. This was slightly disappointing only because I was curious to see how Angello would react to playing second fiddle to Armin. It’s no secret the success of Swedish House Mafia has inflated the trio’s ego ever so slightly (their Greyhound video’s shameless plug for Absolut had all the subtly of a Moscow nightclub), but would a humbling stoke him into trying to one-up the veteran Van Buuren?

It’s been known to happen. In 2010 I was at the Guvernment in Toronto for their Easter celebration, Decadence, and saw David Guetta absolutely tear the roof off the Koolhaus while Armin hosted his A State of Trance 450 party in the next room. For whatever reason, Armin decided to start his set on the slower side, despite the club practically bursting at the seams with chanting, rowdy fans. Un-satisfied with the get-up-and-go in that room, everyone funneled into the Koolhaus where Guetta was playing and were subsequently wowed by what they heard. Perfectly tuning into the raucous party vibe of the crowd, he kept the energy high for the whole set, making full converts of many in the crowd who had sneered at the French pop-house star before the show. I myself had to eat the biggest slice of humble pie, as I was one of the most critical of monsieur Guetta beforehand, and can now only offer praise.

Sadly, the same scenario wouldn’t be playing out in Vancouver. Angello’s last few shows in this city had been, in my opinion, sub-par. Played-out tracks with little or no surprises thrown in had left me cold, so I was hoping some healthy competition would set him off the way Armin did to Guetta. But I guess we’ll never know! Needless to say, Armin did not need any prodding to get him revved. With what was easily a crowd of over 5,000, the minute he opened with Omnia & IRA – The Fusion, the tone was set. It’s been a recent favorite of Armin’s, and for good reason. That stuttery main riff, the chopped vocals and the stuck-in-your-head melody make it the perfect opening record. From then on it was the quintessential Armin set the world has come to know and love. Pace, energy, and a constantly upbeat and uplifting vibe, the two and a half hours were virtually flawless. A remix of The Killers “Mr. Brightside” (apparently Armin’s Ultra 2012 Remix) was a high point, with the vocals being displayed on the screen behind him, and a very simple but pounding beat that did wonders. “Not Giving Up On Love” and “Burned With Desire”, the new and the old of Armin were great surprises, as was Ben Gold’s remix of Gareth Emery Tokyo.

The production value at the show was exceptional, with the sound at VCC being a significant improvement since the last time I was there. The Blueprint team seems to have just about cracked throwing parties there, so hopefully they continue well into the future.

– Henry Gould