While part of our team was at Amsterdam Dance Event the week of Oct. 13, I had the distinct privilege to head to NYC for an Above & Beyond-filled musical adventure–the long-awaited 100th episode of Above & Beyond’s weekly radio show, Group Therapy. Fans from all over the world converged on one of the greatest cities in the world, bringing with them the love they are known for.
My story begins Thursday with a trip to the Google NYC headquarters for a private Q&A with 30 other A&B fans. Straight from their live Google hangout, Tony, Paavo, and Jono sat down with us for a little one-on-one chat. They started out with the details of their forthcoming album, We Are All We Need, a 16-track release that is all about what we can achieve with other people. They also answered questions ranging from their favorite remix of one of their songs (Tony: Seven Lions’ remix of On My Way To Heaven), where the fan names for the album art came from (a secret they didn’t divulge), and how their signature display messages came about (Paavo, the techie of the bunch, designed a program to allow them to be able to talk to fans directly). They took a quick minute to take this photo with us before jaunting off to prepare for their private show for Sirius/XM.
Private Sirius/XM Show
When I arrived at the posh Gansevoort Hotel, the line around the building was full of the familiar faces of the friends I made earlier in the day, and of course, homemade signs boasting the classic Group Therapy ribbons. As we were ushered to the Red Room, the atmosphere was pulsating with the love and energy of 200 hardcore fans ready to see their favorites take stage.
Much to everyone’s delight, their set was full of all of the Above and Beyond classics you would expect, accompanied by each of us singing along. One lucky fan got to push the button for Sun And Moon as we all sang along for my favorite moment of the night (video below) before finishing off the evening with Beckwith’s closing set.
We Are All We Need Times Square video premiere
The following day found us in Times Square with hundreds of other fans from all over the world who had gathered more than an hour early. We parked ourselves between the NYPD and the Korean Food Festival that was in progress, awaiting the video premiere of We Are All We Need. When the men of the hour arrived, the crowd erupted into screams fit for any celebrity sighting. Mounted police aside, plenty of selfies were taken in the middle of the street while the video played out above our heads before the trio disappeared again.
photo: kat gallagher
Pre-Party – Slake
We headed to the pre-party at Slake later that evening, featuring Anjunadeep’s own Matt Lange. The dancefloor was full of happy faces and custom-designed A&B hats and shirts, created by members of the official ABGT100 Facebook group. Those who stayed late into the evening (as Lange played well over his allotted time slot because he was having “so much fun”) were rewarded with the chance to meet and have photos taken with Lange. I headed back to my room around 4 a.m. to rest up for the following day’s events, the grand finale–ABGT100.
photo: kat gallagher
My Facebook feed was full of ABGT100 posts from all over NYC on Saturday. Friends who had never met in person, but brought together by their mutual love of A&B (most met on the hub during the weekly shows), finally meeting before taking part in ABGT100. Random posts of fans eating alone somewhere in the city, and inviting other fans to join them. It was moving to see the A&B love we cherish spreading through a group of people who could no longer be called strangers. As I headed toward MSG, I wondered how many new friends I would meet there.
When I arrived at my seat, the Garden was starting to fill up as the A&B deep set played to the ribbon filled crowd. As I watched each smiling face run in, dancing their way to their spots, I knew this would be a night I would never forget.
In classic Ilan Bluestone style, he captured the crowd immediately with his uplifting trance set, ebbing and flowing with the expertise of a veteran DJ, but what struck me most was the smile on his face–it seemed to say “Is this real life?” I think the crowd’s overwhelming response was enough evidence to support that it was, in fact, really happening.
photo: krystal spencer
Next up was the one and only Andrew Bayer with a repeat performance following his ABGT050 appearance. He told us in a recent chat, “Since I DJ so rarely, I try to make each show really special.” And he certainly did just that, keeping the crowd on their feet, swaying and dancing to each peak and valley of his set.
photo: krystal spencer
The last opener was none other than our “Superman,” Mat Zo. The funk master brought out all his tricks for the evening. I’ve seen Zo a few times before, and this set was like nothing I’ve ever heard from him. Opening with his “Get Down 2 Get Up” and ending with Kaskade’s “Something Something” with some Oliver Heldens & Sander Van Doorn, Knife Party, Chromeo, and more mixed in, it was a set so full of genres, only Mat Zo could pull it off.
photo: krystal spencer
When it came time for the reason we all traveled far and wide to take stage, I wasn’t sure the crowd could get any more excited. I was wrong. Tony and Paavo took the stage to welcome us all, raised the ABGT100 flag, and just like magic, when they dropped it, there stood Jono. It was the first, but certainly not the last, magical moment of the night. Opening with We Are All We Need, the screen filled with all the names flying in to create the hand that appears on the album cover. Excited squeals were heard throughout the venue when someone saw their own name, or a friend’s name. Soon we were singing along and dancing to our favorites, and introduced to some new tunes, including my favorite, Super 8 & Tab and 7 Skies’ collab Rubicon. The lights and video visuals accompanied the music in perfect time, and the live Tweets seen on the jumbotron made us feel like the rest of the world was right there with us.
photo: krystal Spencer
The boys surprised us a bit by changing up the “push-the-button” song from the usual Sun and Moon to Blue Sky Action. TWO lucky fans fulfilled their dreams by not only getting to push the button, but also having the chance to dance in front of all of us and all the people watching the live stream all over the world. They were so happy, that we couldn’t help but smile and be happy for them, instead of wishing we were chosen. As we sang and danced away the last 30 minutes of their set, we all wished the night would never end, but we knew it was not “Goodbye”, but rather “Until next time.”
Afterparty – Pacha
Many of us made our way to the Anjunadeep afterparty at Pacha. As I walked in the brisk weather the four blocks to the venue, I couldn’t help but smile as I saw familiar faces running and skipping down the street, many of them singing–there wasn’t a stranger in sight. At the afterparty, we were able to continue the afterglow with Beckwith, Lane 8, and James and Jono Grant back to back. Around 4 a.m., I had to gracefully bow out to head back.
Being a part of the music industry, I’ve had the pleasure of attending many shows, festivals, and special events like this. However, I don’t think any act will ever take the special place in my heart that Above & Beyond holds, and I know this will be a memory I treasure for a lifetime. If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending an A&B show, make it a priority. Pick up tickets to their show at The Forum in LA here. Don’t believe me, just watch the video from ABGT below. Don’t forget to grab your tissues first. Remember: life is made of small moments. If you love someone, tell them. <3