Event Review: Above and Beyond at Echostage (8-16-13)

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to experience Group Therapy with Above and Beyond.  While this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen the trio perform, it never has and never will get old.  Above and Beyond have the unique ability to connect almost spiritually with the crowds to which they play.  Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the messages they write to the crowd throughout the event or maybe it’s because the energy they give off expertly induces the sense of “feels” that anyone in trance family can certainly relate to.  Beyond trance family, A&B seem to have found a special niche striking a perfect balance with vocals oft anchored by Zoe Johnston and Richard Bedford, fused with trance beats into a style that endears itself to the widest of audiences.

As the rumors of a three hour set were confirmed by a bartender, a certain kind of energy set in. As Jono and Tony, 2/3 of the trio were set to take the stage as part of their semi-regular rotation, which also includes Paavo, chants of “A and B” rung through the venue.  These chants erupted into cheers as they opened their set with a take on Easy by Mat Zo and Porter, and we were off and running.

Those who listen to their weekly Group Therapy podcast were no strangers to the songs they played, many of them coming straight from their Anjunabeats label like Ilan Bluestone and Jerome Isma-Ae. Of course they intermixed these new additions with their classics— “Walter White,” “Alchemy,” “Sun and Moon” and “A Thing Called Love” garnered screams and massive sing-alongs throughout the entire night.  One of the most exciting moments the crowd shared with A&B came when they gave a sample of their new acoustic show, launched this year first in England and now in Los Angeles in October. This one new addition to their set created a transcendental feeling as the lyrics to “Love is Not Enough” echoed and haunted every listener there. This acoustic foray by a big time EDM artist might soon be considered an alternate forum, another huge testament to their ability to appeal to everyone.

In true trance form, three hours disappeared in what seemed like minutes and at about 3:20, their night was over.  “ONE MORE SONG,” we cheered, and in true crowd pleasing form, we got it.  A great way to end an amazing night.  After doing some digging, and although difficult to capture the full experience through a headcam, Youtuber Gekaxo with all his or her discipline got the full set which you can watch below (split into six parts).  I think the sign by one of the girls in the video captures the mood well.  “It’s all about partying with the ones you love.”

As far as the venue, Echostage?  Well done….  I had my first opportunity to see Echostage last year for a LIC Dada Life after party, and they continue to impress me.  You can tell whoever brainstormed this venue in their mind was looking for a “no frills all about the music” experience.  After entry, you round a quick corner, and are presented with two solitary but lengthy bars running the length of the each wall from the back of the club to main stage, a VIP balcony that horseshoes above those being served, and the rest of it is a completely open floor.  No bad spots anywhere, at all.  Sure, you had to worry about just how close to the music you wanted to be, but if you decided to forego the more rowdy crowds towards the front, you could easily step 30 feet in any direction to breathe and or dance around, and get an equally good view.  Although I’m not sure of the capacity, the venue gives you the feel of a small intimate crowd, while in reality it holds about 4000 at capacity.

The lines in the front, bar, and bathroom were minimal, even at the busiest parts of the evening.  Of the biggest test for club shows, Echostage security also get a huge thumbs up.  After the venue “closed down,” our group tried to finally get to the rail for a picture, and after initially objecting, our guard softened and even took our picture for us.  However, of Echostage’s most marketable traits, were the production on the stage.  Their light show captured the mood perfectly, refracting lights off their white ceiling off-sets a la EDC’s circuit grounds.  These lights coupled with the screen which served as the backdrop was just phenomenal, see below.

Any venue that seeks to outshine the artists they bring in are not only doing a disservice to the artist, but the crowd as well.  Echostage nailed every aspect of the show they needed to, leaving Above and Beyond to do what they do best. A&B was the hero of the night, but Echostage also gets a nod in my book, and it looks like other artists have gotten the hint that this is a go-to DC venue.

Looking at Echostage’s lineup (click here) the rest of the year, I’m going to do everything I can to catch another show.