Above & Beyond turn Roseland Ballroom into a Temple of Trance

Posted by on February 22, 2013


It is said that Above & Beyond live creates an atmosphere much like that of a religious experience. Whether you are the person right up front wearing an Anjunabeats T-shirt, the girl on somebody’s shoulder making a heart hands and getting one back from Tony, or the guy dancing all the way in the back, Above & Beyond have a way to connect and touch every member of the audience on a deep, personal and emotional way that few other Djs can do. I credit Above & Beyond for helping take the full on plunge into dance music. It was not until I saw their club show at Glow DC two summers ago right after the release of Group Therapy, a show I almost did not get into due to issues with the overzealous bouncers, that I dove head first into this thing called dance music and eventually led me here at FNT.


My night started as many of these concert nights do with a quick drive into New York with the appropriate music of the night going on my iPod over the car speakers. Once in the Big Apple, I drop off my car in a lot on 51st street and bustle over to Roseland Ballroom hoping to maybe catch the end of Beckwith’s set or see all of Andrew Bayer’s set. I was not the only one showing up at around 10:45 that night, there were hundreds if not a thousand people already waiting outside of Roseland Ballroom waiting to be granted access to the sanctuary being taken over that night by Tony and Jono and their disciples. Me and my friends had been able to sneak past an unaware guard for Eric Prydz over Thanksgiving, but this time the tactic did not work and I walked down the line that snaked around 52nd street, up a block on 8th Ave and for as far as the eye could see down 53rd street. On the cold night many were woefully unprepared for such a line as some were there in just shorts and t-shirts and of course the many who had pre-gamed heavily beforehand were waddling up the line in the vain hope of reaching the bathroom. At around 11:15, a black explorer turned right from 8th ave onto 53rd ave and stopped behind traffic. It stood out because there was a bright light emanating from a camera inside and upon further examination, Tony McGuinness, the giddy, joyous little white haired member of the trio was in the vehicle and once one person found out, the vehicle was mobbed and it would not move for 5 minutes as Tony talked with fans and many took pictures of and with him.


Armed with the knowledge of set times, I was not worried about missing Andrew Bayer and a little before midnight me and my linemates made our way inside and that seemingly indefatigably feeling of cold turned to warmth and excitement. Once inside we made our way front center and got the full on assault of Andrew Bayer’s driving mix of trance, progressive and house that showed not only the uniqueness of his sound but the diversity of his productions and his sets. He incorporated some new stuff from his upcoming album into a set that on the spot sounded like the baby of Anjunabeats, Anjunadeep and Pryda Friends all in one. His set provided no lulls and no really big drops, only a strong groove that at the right moment, built to a frenzy and forced the crowd into ruckus with hands held high. He ended his set with the infallible “Miami To Atlanta” from Eric Prydz, a track who’s snare has been sampled more times that can be counted and serves as a constant reminder of the timeless ability of the melodic master.


By 12:30 the time had come for the leaders of this great night to step forth and shine in front of the now packed sold out Roseland Ballroom crowd. Their appearance at the helm of the Dj table brought about raucous applause with their recent free track “Small Moments” setting the mood for what was to be an unforgettable night of Group Therapy. The night was a celebration of the upcoming Anjunabeats Volume 10, so the whole two disk volume was opened up and there were some exclusive world unveilings. They got right into it with the man who had just relinquished the decks, Andrew Bayer’s ethereal contribution to the compilation “England” that served as an outstanding launch pad with “Small Moments” for the rest of the night. They followed that up with Audien’s “Wayfarer”, a set starter for the trio for quite some and once the serene melodies came bursting out of the speakers, you knew they were in full command of the the audience. As is customary, it is not until the headliner that the volume gets turned all the way up and at this point one could feel the bass rattling through your chest cavity as the speaker system at Roseland Ballroom was being pushed almost to its limit.


Showing their trademark charisma and energy behind the decks, Jono and Tony, mostly Tony did not waste one moment not interacting with fans, either pointing to people around in the audience, giving back heart hands to enamored girls, giving thumps up to people with creative signs and of course their typing on the LED screen behind them, a way to communicate with the audience without interrupting the music like someone yelling over the mic for you to “make some noise” or for you to “put your motherf*cking hands up”. It took almost no time at all and they had the crowd at their finger tips, the Above & Beyond experience was underway — the train had left the station and you could not escape it.

It has been close to two years since the release of “Group Therapy”, so the club mixes of various singles have been released and are staples of their Dj set and the first half saw a few of these like “On My Way To Heaven”, “A Thing Called Love” and “Alchemy” intermixed with Anjunabeats Volume 10 tracks like one of their favorites, Ronski Speed’s “Pink Sky” and Norin & Rad “Aldo”. A moment that was special for me was when they played my two favorites from what I have heard so far off of the compilation back to back, Above & Beyond’s “Walter White” and Kyau & Albert’s “Glühwürmchen”.


They showed no signs of slowing as the clock approached 2am as they unleashed their high powered club mix of “Black Room Boy”, taking the crowd to a another level of euphoria. Roseland Ballroom showed no signs of letting up as vocal tracks like the Kyau & Albert remix of “Stranger“, the heavenly Myon & Shane 54 remix of “The Great Divide” and the Genix remix of the “Tri-State” classic “Home” set to see its release on Anjunabeats Volume 10. No Above & Beyond set would not be complete without a “Sun & Moon” push the button moment, something that the person who is blessed with this opportunity will never forget and a spine chilling event for all of those in attendance.

They finished the set on a much slower note with “Prelude”, sending the message that this song was for our generation and the future was in our hands. The last track of an Above & Beyond set is special and is usually something slow that you can sing a long to like “On a Good Day” or “Alone Tonight”. This time they surprised me with their 2006 classic remix of Gabriel & Dresden ft. Jes pres. Motorcyle “As The Rush Comes” that brought it way back to their roots on a night that was all about displaying the talent of the future.


3am saw Above & Beyond give way to Northern California duo Norin & Rad and they started fast with a steady dose of Norin & Rad. They had the nearly impossible task of following up Above & Beyond and they started out strong like a back to back selection of Leon Bolier’s “Us” and “Pistol Whip”, whipping the crowd into a frenzy and showing a promise that the energy built up by Above & Beyond would not be able to seep out the front door. However, towards the end of the set, their tracklisting sounded a bit like a random assortment of house tracks that worked at points, but also seemed a bit out of place for the setting.

My only other reservation besides the somewhat lackluster ending to Norin & Rad’s set was that all three of the Above & Beyond crew were not there for their album launch party. They are rarely together for a live show and on this special occasion I would have thought it warranted the three of them to join the festivities. Besides those two small things, the night was surreal. Andrew Bayer got things going in his unique, uptempo fashion, laying the groundwork for a heavenly set from label heads Above & Beyond. Tony & Jono then took the 5 thousand in attendence to heaven and back with their sublime track selection and ability to control the crowd from the first note until their very last beat had echoed off the walls at 3am. By 4am the lights had come up and the sound had cut off — it was time for the revelers to leave the temple of trance and find a way to return to home and back to normal.

Photo Credit: Doug Van Sant for MadeEvent.com

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