Cover Photo courtesy of Turk Photos @turkphotos
Once upon a time, two bassheads attended Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy Weekender Event at the Gorge Amphitheater—and had the time of their lives. Neither knew if they liked trance or house, but were curious to see what the hype was about. So hi, my name is Karen and I’m a basshead. Another journalist at Festival Squad had initially signed up for the Group Therapy Weekender Event but had to cancel last minute. Thankfully, I live near The Gorge and had the weekend open, so I decided to give it a go. Above & Beyond (A&B) had graciously provided a second ticket so I was able to bring my friend, Dustin. Like me, the only artists Dustin knew on the lineup were A&B and Audien. I’m generally accustomed to knowing the majority of the artists on any festival lineup, but was excited to go in basically blind for this one. Ultimately, all I knew for sure was that we would undoubtedly have a great time!
Hi, I’m New Here
Going in completely oblivious was honestly exhilarating. I could have listened to all of the artists prior to going, but I wanted to see them live for the first time at one of the most magical venues on this earth, the Gorge. We made friends who showed us the Anjuna ropes and taught us to dance to trance/house, which is more of sway and flow and less headbanging. I must admit it was tough initially, waiting patiently for the drop after a prolonged build-up,- but we soon got into the groove. There was only one stage, so we saw every act and were overall really impressed. I still don’t feel as though I have the proper vocabulary to describe in detail what I appreciated, but I can tell you that it was magical.
Silent Disco FTW
A pre-party was held on Friday in the Meadow and featured a silent disco with various producers taking turns on the decks. Dustin and I set up camp and then set out to explore. Jono from A&B joined his brother James, who runs Anjunadeep, and played a really gorgeous set. I loved being able to switch between channels and explore several different artists. Ping pong tables were also set up! I really enjoyed playing a game or two while jamming to some beats. What a brilliant concept!
Group Therapy is Now in Session: Anjunabeats
The Weekender Event was divided into two days, with Saturday hosting artists on the Anjunabeats label and Sunday for Anjunadeep. Anjunabeats artists are proper trance and progressive house music, the featured artists including Jason Ross, Tinlicker, Qrion, Andrew Bayer, Audien, Gabriel & Dresden, Ilan Bluestone, ALPHA 9 & Spencer Brown and of course, Above & Beyond. As expected, A&B played a magical set. I may have shed a tear or two when they played “Sun & Moon”, but I don’t feel that I was alone in that one.
I have never previously seen a Push the Button take place and I was not disappointed. The chosen group of fans were over the moon to have the honor of standing beside A&B and pushing the button. I love that A&B still continues this tradition and the joy it brings everyone.
Seven Lions came out with Above & Beyond to play their new track, released that same day and called “See The End.” I’m getting chills typing this right now, remembering how powerful and moving that song was live. Seven Lions popped up in a food truck later that night to play a campground set, which was a special treat indeed.
Artists who played on Sunday for Anjunadeep included Spencer Brown & Qrion (deep set), Marsh & Nox Vahn, Cubicolor live, Ben Bohmer live, James Grant & Jody Wisternoff, Lutrell and Yotto. My untrained ear did notice a difference between Day 1 and Day 2, with highlights being Audien, ALPHA 9 & Spencer Brown, Cubicolor, Above & Beyond and my new favorite, Yotto. Yotto’s energy to close out the weekend was absolutely electric and ended the event on a wonderful note. I will definitely see him again! Cubicolor was absolutely beautiful and ethereal, giving off contagious and uplifting energy. To top everything off Sunday morning, the infamous yoga set with Above & Beyond feat. Elena Brown took place.
What made this event for me–the oblivious basshead at her first trance event–were the people. Everyone was so kind, welcoming, and their sheer happiness was contagious. Dustin and I made new, amazing friends who took us in and explained what we were hearing and why each artist was special and unique. Having their guidance really made all the difference. I could tell you I liked an artist but do not yet possess the knowledge or vocabulary to explain why. Our new friends were good friends with Spencer Brown, who came out to the hill each day to visit and watch other acts. He’s a really kind man who always signs an autograph or takes a photo with a fan when approached.
At the very end of the event, A&B took the stage to thank the fans, crew, venue, artists, and anyone else who had a hand to make the Weekender Event possible. They announced that they will be bringing the Weekender Event back in 2021, to which The Gorge erupted into cheers. I absolutely plan on going again and look forward to having more knowledge under my belt. The Weekender Event is special in a way that no other event that I’ve attended is. I can’t explain why, but I believe it’s the perfect combination of a fantastic lineup, breathtaking venue, and the love that emanated from each member of the Anjuna Family. Above & Beyond expertly curated every element of The Weekender Event and provided fans with a legendary experience. I already can’t wait for the Anjuna Family Reunion in 2021 at The Gorge! Will I see you there?