Back in September of 2017, Above & Beyond brought their 250th Group Therapy celebration to George, Washington at the site of the Gorge Amphitheater. The event met expectations leaving Above & Beyond fans in awe and wanting more. Fast-forward to last weekend, and the legendary trio brought their inaugural Group Therapy Weekender to the same Gorge Amphitheater and needless to say, the event exceeded all expectations.
The intent of the Weekender was to provide a safe haven for Anjunabeats’ fans. Each unique aspect of the event was intended to give fans endless options to gather together and enjoy good music and events. From a Friday night silent disco to a Sunday morning yoga session, fans had the opportunity to take in all the Gorge had to offer along with hearing the best and brightest from Anjunabeats.
What to Work on For Next Time
Before we dive into what the event did well, let’s go over what they could do better for next time. For one, the line to get into the event was a total sh*t show, especially earlier in the day. The line was backed up with no organization so attendees didn’t know where to stand or how long they were about to wait for.
Inside the event, there were only a few signs stating where vendors or the stage were. It became easy to navigate once you walked around and got your bearings, but in the beginning it felt like attendees were left to venture off on their own.
The Good Stuff
Now to the good stuff. First and foremost, the attendees really did make this event exceed expectations. Everyone was supportive and friendly anywhere you went. I constantly overheard people connecting from different parts of the world with one commonality: music. That is the power of Anjunabeats. For one reason or another, the label always attracts some of the most well-behaved and friendly crowds in dance music.
Even the employees at the Gorge were friendly and engaging. If you had a question, they would answer it with a smile on their face. Each time I bought a beer or food, I always dove into a deep conversation with one of the employees. It seemed as though the entire place was a utopia of good vibes and good music. Speaking of music…
Every act absolutely killed it. From the lesser known acts like Qrion and Tinlicker to the heavy hitters like Andrew Bayer and Ilan Bluestone, each act understood the magnitude of this event and brought the heat.
Day 1 of the event showcased the best on the Anjunabeats label. Yes, all the acts dropped incredible sets but there were some that really stood out amongst the rest. First, Gabriel & Dresden had one of the most unique-sounding sets of the entire weekend. Their Indie-trance sound clearly stood out and got the crowd moving early in the day.
Second highlight was Audien. Quite honestly, he was the act I didn’t care much about. The way he spins his sets- or a lack there-of at times- differs greatly from the rest of the lineup. But on this day, he showed excellent fluidity and his song selection was top-notch as he had the energy at a 10 from start to finish.
Above & Beyond
But the Kings of day 1 were the hosts of the Weekender- Above & Beyond. Before they came on stage I remember asking my friend, “how are these dudes supposed to top a full day of monster sets?” Well they answered that question very quickly.
Almost as an ode to their label mates, Above & Beyond dropped tracks from all over their label’s talents creating one of their heaviest and wide-ranging sets in recent memory, flexing their muscles along the way. They even brought out Seven Lions on stage towards the end of their set to play out their new collaboration ‘See The End’. From start to finish, A&B had the crowd in the palms of their hands.
The Group Therapy did not end there. After the Ilan Bluestone closed out the day, Jason Ross and Seven Lions did a surprise b2b set in the campgrounds. Along with that, Gabriel & Dresden joined the b2b party along with Duncan from the (Anjuna) Office.
Moving on to Day 2, the Anjunadeep roster showcased some of the best in deep house and trance. The day began with an Above & Beyond yoga set, playing out their new Flow State tranquil album. Elena Brower, who A&B do many of their big yoga events with, joined the yoga session as well.
Unfortunately Eli & Fur couldn’t make it which opened up a spot for Spencer Brown b2b Qrion which kicked off the beats after the yoga session. From there, the crowd got to vibe out to Marsh & Nox Vohn, Cubicolor, and Ben Bohmer. But the standouts of the day came towards the end as Jody Wisternoff and James Grant spun an incredible set filled with IDs. Following them was Luttrell and Yotto, who had arguably the best set of the entire weekend.
After Yotto finished his set, Tony and Paavo of Above & Beyond came on stage along with James Grant. They said thank you to the crowd and spoke to what an incredible feeling it was to come back to the Gorge. But before they left the stage and everyone returned to their camp grounds, they announced that the Weekender celebration would return in 2021. It only seems right that they bring back this incredible event.
The first Group Therapy Weekender was everything and more the fans wanted. The amazing events, music, and people created one of the most unique and wonderful events I have ever been apart of. We cannot wait to see how Above & Beyond and Anjunabeats top this in a couple years. In the meantime, we’re still waiting for the live sets to hit the web. We need to relive these sets over and over again. If you attended, let us know what your favorite memories are.
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