It fit just right, hooray!
The plan with the disposable camera was to do a “flyby” of the entrance to figure out if I could get it in. First thing I noticed was a BIG sign saying “No cameras or recording devices allowed.” Hmm. There were three levels of security; first, since it was an all-ages show, they checked ID and braceletted you if you wanted to drink; second, they asked you to remove everything from you pockets and then they performed a pat-down and metal detector check with those wand-devices you see at airports. Third, the ticket-taker scanned your ticket barcode which activated a turnstyle. And between the pat-downers and the ticket-takers were two armed police.
So, suffice it to say that meant a trip back to Jeff’s car to put away the camera. Sorry guys, no pictures. 🙁 Ah well.
Jeff and I cleared security around 10pm and walked through the tall, heavy, church-like double-wooden carved doors. First thing we see? A woman selling water and various other non-water beverages. Red bull too. Water was $2.50/200 ml, less than I expected. Picked up one for Jeff and myself and wandered around a bit.
The House of Blues is an incredible venue. The ceiling is about 60 feet up; the dancefloor comfortably holds 300, and there are massive wooden stairs leading an overhanging balcony about 30 feet up. The balcony continues the church theme with pews as seating.
The lighting is fantastic; they have those cone lights which I love so much and first saw at Paul Oakenfold/Vancouver in 1999 during the “Tranceport” tour. And new variations on that theme too; they had a brilliant yellow cone-light with what looked like blood-red light inside it. Just stunning.
Security inside the club was pretty easy to spot; all guards were wearing bright yellow shirts, each one saying “H.O.B.” and a triple-digit id code (probably to make it look like there were tons of them). My guess is there were a couple dozen anyhow.
The opening act, Edgar V, played a very respectable progressive house set. Jeff and I sat through the majority of it, in part to the absorb the atmosphere, and also to make sure we had somewhere to sit! The place filled up fast; the floor was filled to my comfort-level (you know, enough room so that you can still move your feet a little) at 10:45, and there were plenty of people not on it. The couple dozen or so TVs positioned around the ample seating rotated between 5 seconds shots of “VANDIT”, “PVD/CD/DVD”, and “Paul Van Dyk”. From the sound-booth area near the back-centre of the dancefloor, a video recorder on a tripod captured the scene.
I made a scouting run to the dance floor to see what it was like. Two discoveries. (a) The sound was very excellent: loud, but just in all the right frequencies, and (b) it was a pretty diverse crowd. The dancefloor was pretty segregated: the candy ravers were up front, then the hardcore PvD fans and regular-ol ravers, then clubbers and finally the meat market taking up the rear.
Jeff and I had speculated on the age demographics before we went to the show; I guessed a two-tailed distribution with humps at 20 and 27-30; Jeff guessed a more randomized distribution. His reasoning was that most of the people at Downtown Disney (where the House of Blues is located) are already on vacation and are likely to drop $43 on the spur-of-the-moment to see a music act (such as Paul van Dyk) that they’d never heard of. So you’ll get more even demographics than if the event had been at, say, a regular old club. Jeff was right.
A few minutes after sitting at our table, we were approached by what appeared to be a waitress. She said something indecipherable under the loud music. I shook my head and held up my water bottle. She then pointed to a bucket she was carrying and to a a glowstick held by a chain around neck. “How much?”, I asked. $3. I got one for myself and for Jeff, and went about putting mine in my shoe, to be broken when our beloved headliner arrived.
Paul appeared from behind a curtain at 11:25 to the deafening roar of the over 800 in attendance. It was so loud my ears hurt, louder than the music. He wore his classic outfit, a white button up shirt, top two buttons undone. The televisions around the club started playing the DVD from Paul’s newest CD/DVD release, Global.
The already-full dancefloor became stuffed. But with this shift, there was more room near our tables, so I busted open the can of groove right there beside our table. It was awesome. Everyone in the place was dancing, regardless of whether they were on the dancefloor or not.
I headed out to the dancefloor to check it out; Jeff stayed and watched our table and things.
Around 12:30, a few fellow fans asked if they could sit on our chairs. We happily said yes. People were using up their energy in a hurry, and places to sit were in short supply. They ended up watching our table for us, so I thought it ended up working quite well.
Turns out we didn’t need our table saved, though, since we never returned to it!! Paul laid down one massive melodious track after another, not missing a single beat. Perhaps it’s that German precision? 🙂 Around 1:35 he waved to the crowd and walked away from the decks. The crowd cheered so loud I heard my ear drums resonating in unusual ways. It was a visceral experience to say the least.
He then came back for not one, but three gigantic encores. And he would have played one more too, had HOB staff not given him the “cut your neck off” hand signals.
A fantastic evening out. If you ever get the chance to see Paul van Dyk, take it, you won’t regret it.