Are you a fan of Armin van Buuren?
I have been now for over 10-years but have never got around to seeing him live at an event.
Until now that is!
At the risk of making EDM lovers jealous (in fact most of my friends actually), early morning on the 30th December 2019 I headed to the airport to fly to Bangkok for 3-days for the Neon Countdown EDM festival.
I got to see Armin van Buuren and several other International DJ’s perform live in front of thousands of electronic dance music (EDM) fans.
Here is my rundown of the event including some video clips for you.
How did I end up in Bangkok New Year’s Eve?
To backtrack briefly on how a forty old husband and dad to two-kids can end up in Bangkok (or all places) on his own at an EDM festival clubbing over New Year.
Family and friends have all been wondering what the heck happened.
To be revealed in my Guru course of “how to solo travel to conferences and EDM parties without your spouse” at the bargain price of $997 very soon… of course entry is limited to the first 100 applicants 😉
CLICK HERE (LIMITED SPOTS AVAILABLE)
Of course, there will be no course… but here is the back story.
My wife called me out of the blue back in October 2019 asking if I knew about a dance festival happening in Bangkok over New Year. I had no idea, but this got my interest… what was my wife going to suggest?
Surpassing all expectations my wife suggested I do a solo trip to Bangkok to see my favorite DJ.
I was, and am still, blown away by my wife’s kindness.
Even though I am a short flight away from Bangkok the idea felt strange, thinking of heading there alone and spending New Year’s Eve and day without my family.
So, I booked flights and two nights stay in a Bangkok hotel, purchasing the VIP tickets to the Neon Countdown event.
What is Neon Countdown?
I hadn’t heard of Neon Countdown before and so quickly looked them up. They are a team of event promoter called NEON Events and are becoming one of the fastest-growing music festivals brands in Asia.
This particular event first started in 2017 and looks to be happening again in 2020.
The Neon Countdown event is for 20-year olds and above who are avid EDM fans!
Neon Countdown 2019 DJ Line-up
Over the two days, there were over 14 International DJs playing on two stages, all the action was on the Infinity Stage though. On a few occasions, I went to the Circuit Stage, which was basically a tent located by the food area, and there were very few people there.
So, I didn’t know many of the DJs that were playing. I had only heard of Armin, Ben Nicky, and Dimitri Vegas.
Day One – 30th December 2019
- 5pm Faansai
- 5:30pm Goldfish +Blink (38/37) – Malaysian duo DJS who play mostly Hiphop
- 6:15pm KRUNK – Australian DJ who plays Hard dance, Electro house, Big Room, Psy-trance, Melbourne bounce
- 7:15pm Blastoyz (30)– Israeli DJ who plays Psychedelic Trance, Trance
- 8:15pm Will Sparks (27)– Australian DJ who plays Melbourne bounce, electro house
- 9:20pm Quintino (34)– Dutch DJ who plays Electro house, EDM, Dutch house, progressive house, big room house, trap
- 10:40pm Armin Van Buuren (43) – Dutch DJ who plays trance, house, uplifting trance, progressive trance
Day Two – 31st December 2019
- 5pm Mateo – American DJ who plays Techno,Hard Techno, Deep tech
- 5:45pm Chukiess and Whackboi (31/27)– Malaysian DJs who play Trance, Progressive house music, Dance, Electro
- 6:30pm Dimatik – Australian DJ who plays Dance, Electronic
- 7:30pm Ben Nicky (33)– British DJ who plays Trance, Psy Trance, Techno, Hardstyle, Bounce
- 8:45pm Valentino Khan (32)– American DJ who plays Trap, Hardstyle, moombahton, future house, dubstep, jungle terror, bass house
- 10:05pm Vini Vici – Israeli DJ who plays Psytrance, trance, full-on, progressive
- 11:10pm Dimitri Vegas Like Mike (38/34)– DJ duo play Electro house, big room house, progressive house, trap, dutch house, hardstyle, psytrance,future house, mombahton,future bass,deep house, chillout, dance pop
The DJ’s that I actually watched I have shown in green.
Show DC Arena Venue
It was my first time to Show DC Arena and is a fairly big place, although I did imagine it to be bigger.
The atmosphere was electric! These guys really know how to run an amazing show.
The organization was great, very professional and all with a happy face. I didn’t see any trouble whilst there. Everyone was there to party and have a good time!
Collecting the tickets I had no queue partly helped because I had VIP tickets. They strap an RFID wristband that acts as your scan-able ticket at the main entrance and also a way to load money onto it to buy food and drinks.
In the VIP neon sky-deck, there were no queues for topping up the wristband and easy to get drinks.
The staff was somewhat surprised I only ordered a coke, water, and the odd red-bull, since I quit drinking alcohol over 6-months ago.
How I got to the Show DC Arena
The venue for the Neon Countdown event was Super DC Arena that is located on the outskirts of downtown Bangkok and not too easy to get to as there is no public transport. This means you’re at the mercy of Tuk Tuks or Taxis.
Getting there I took a Grab the first night but with the Bangkok traffic, it took me over an hour to get there.
I learned my lesson and the next night I took a Tuk-Tuk. Although much more expensive (like 3 times the cost) it only took 10-15 minutes to get there.
For a more in-depth guide to how to get there, ticket pricing, check out Charlotte’s excellent post here.
Music and the Atmosphere
One word – awesome!
The festival was incredibly well run. With numbers running into at least 20k of party revelers, the organisation is a massive factor and the Neon Events crew did an amazing job.
I arrived on both nights around 6:30 pm and the venue was still filling up. By the time it reached 9 pm, it was getting busy and the main area was filled with revelers.
The venue was great and everyone was in a party mood. There was free neon face painting, I was a boring old fart and decided not to worry about it.
Although I enjoyed both nights, on balance I preferred the first night mostly because turning up not really knowing what to expect was exciting. Also the fact the headline act was Armin van Buuren, who ultimately I was there to see.
The facilities were great with food and drinks available. The toilets were thankfully clean too!
I am preparing a short video of my trip and should have this uploaded here in the next few days.
Armin van Buuren Neon Countdown Intro
Vini Vici Neon Countdown Intro
I have some observations from hearing the DJ sets. I should explain I don’t attend festivals or gigs but listen to YouTube all the time to DJ’s like Armin (ASOS), Giuseppe Ottaviani, MaRLo, Andrew Rayel, etc.
So, below is almost certainly common when listening to music at festivals.
Didn’t I just hear that track?
I had a distinct case of deja vu when listening to each of the DJ’s playing their set. I must have heard the same 5-6 tracks played numerous times during the evening.
I know some of the tracks are classics but hearing them so many times from different DJs was a little unusual. It’s not like there is a shortage of amazing EDM music out there!
Armin was less guilty of this as was Valentino Khan. The caveat here is I didn’t hear EVERY DJ over both nights, so I am only referring to the ones I saw.
Bass, how low can you go?
Well in short, not that low it seems!
The bass really didn’t seem as deep and chest-pounding as I thought it would. Maybe this is because of the large open-air event space. I was expecting to really feel the bass in my chest instead of sounding a little bit of the tinny side.
The audio clips taken from my iPhone don’t do it any justice.
Track lengths in the sets
Each track that was played lasted for a short duration and by the time you get into it the next track is mixing in.
Considering every DJ did this it’s likely to be how “live” events work. I am used to listening to Armin Van Buuren’s weekly a state of trance where you hear most of the track between mixes.
So many attractive women!
Without wanting to sound creepy here (or have I blown it already?), there were so many attractive Asian women at the event that I had to just mention here to make my male friends jealous! 😉
One that is impossible to ignore is the sheer number of photos the girls take of themselves. I mean no wonder iPhone has to keep increasing its storage with each iteration they make!
Seeing the girls preening and pouting for minutes at a time (not that I was looking!!) did somewhat take away from how seductive many of them looked.
I will let you guys decide for yourself in my collage of Neon Countdown girls!
Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/METAmusicfestival/
I think we should probably leave this there…
Worthy DJ mentions
Armin Van Buuren of course didn’t disappoint. I have yet to hear duff set from him in all the years listening to him. He has to be one of the most consistently good DJ’s on the circuit.
I enjoyed Ben Nicky’s set too. I am rubbish at remembering track names, but he played some familiar ones and of course a few Armin ones too.
One guy that was a surprise was Valentino Khan. He played some music I have never heard before mostly because the genre of Trap, Dubstep, and “terror bass” isn’t what I would typically listen to.
Valentino is certainly an energetic DJ. He was up and down flinging his arms around to the beat. A DJ that knows how to engage with the crowd, very much like Armin.
It seems that Valentino Khan collaborates with the likes of Skrillex and Steve Aoki, DJs that I am not particular fans of as it’s not my type of music.
Recovering from Neon Countdown 2019
Readers of LifeHacker Guy or who know me personally already appreciate I am not the most active of chaps. So, walking and dancing for hours on both nights definitely took its toll.
In fact, the after day one of Neon Countdown I felt like I had been in a fight!
My legs and arms were both sore.
Checking the step account on my Oura ring (check my review on this cool sleep tracker) shown I had done 28,000 steps on day one followed by 18,000 steps on day two.
That’s a whopping 40,000 steps in just two days!
You can see my step activity during these two days was much higher than my typical 8-10,000 steps.
No wonder I was so tired.
You can see how tired I looked on the morning of day two when recovering by the pool at my hotel.
On New Year’s Day traveling back was even more tiring even though the flight was only 1 hour 40 minutes. Thai Smile was delayed and so I ended up getting home at 11:30 pm.
The following two days I spent with my two kids at the pool relaxing as much as I could with two energetic kids jumping and pulling me.
I was glad to be back home. Like always when I go away, getting back to the family is amazing.
It’s a wrap
A great experience and am very glad to have had the opportunity to see Armin van Buuren live.
When standing in the Skydeck observing the crowd I realized how much I would much prefer being in the DJ booth than in the crowd. Clearly this is a very ambitious goal and not one that I am striving towards, but nevertheless it would be very cool if this ever happened.
I got a tiny taste of this when I did a few gigs at university, one my one-man EDM band I called Collusion (check out my about page for an embarrassing picture of me performing).
Listening to the music played has given me a better insight into what works to generate the atmosphere needed for a decent EDM track.
So, my final word is the two-day Neon Countdown event in Bangkok was amazing. A great venue that isn’t too difficult to get albeit traffic in Bangkok can be an issue.
The line-up of DJs was a good mix and as long as you opt for VIP (or VVIP tickets if you’re a real baller) there aren’t queues for getting in or buying drinks.
Thanks again to my lovely generous wife for firstly letting me know about it and secondly for being super cool in suggesting I go!