Above & Beyond put together the finest trance set I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing on May 31st at the Amphitheatre in Ybor City, Florida. They used an amazing stage presence, intriguing visuals and unmatched veteran expertise to leave an audience screaming for more after a 2+ hour set. Affordable tickets, relaxed dress code and an unmatched surround sound speaker system made the Amphitheatre in Ybor City (a part of the Tampa Bay area) the perfect setting for the gig.
Above & Beyond is an English trance trio comprised of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki. Although Grant’s presence was missed, the remaining two members did a fantastic job of showing a young audience exactly why Above & Beyond are the best at what they do. While trance superstars such as Armin van Buuren and Tiesto have infused more and more vocal house in to their sets, A&B remains true to their bread and butter; high energy, deep, uplifting trance music.
The duo came out to a frantic audience cheering “A and B! A and B!” and built the perfect set from start to finish. While most DJs will come at you with full force right away, Above & Beyond plays it cool at first. Their visualizer asked “Are you ready for some group therapy?” at the beginning. The first 40 minutes was comprised of instrumentals to pace the crowd for the lengthy set ahead. The beginning flew by as the Amphitheatre’s vibrating dance floor (yeah I said it…) and surround sound speaker system made the crowd jump up and down at each drop. There really isn’t a bad spot in the house and it allows for the audience to spread out and have room to dance.
Following the 40-minute mark, Above & Beyond’s custom visualizer read “Ever been to heaven?”, alluding to the duo mixing in their track “On My Way To Heaven”. This would prove to be an amusing element to Above & Beyond’s live show that we will get in to more later. The crowd, a laid back group of younger individuals, proved to be very familiar with the group’s material. During the vocal parts of the track the crowd could be heard, even over the thousands and thousands of watts that the venue boasts.
The group would go through another hour and a halfs worth of their best material, including “Alchemy”, “Thing Called Love”, You’ve Got To Go” and “Sun & Moon”. The arousing visuals changed for each tune dropped. During “Thing Called Love” the backdrop read “Never forget about love”. During “You’ve Got To Go”: “Dreams come true”. This went so on and so forth for each vocal track, although it wasn’t really apparent that they were the ones controlling it until the very end. Their visualizer read phrases like “This is Tampa” and “This is dance music” to get the crowd pumped up. But it wasn’t until the last few songs that the whole “Group Therapy” thing really clicked.
During a texted rant on the backdrop, the audience was reading the duo’s views on Florida. They mentioned things that would make you grateful to be from Florida such as the pearly sand and rich blue oceans. They also thanked the beautiful people in the audience for coming out and making the experience possible. They told us via text that they were falling in love with Florida. All of this without breaking the beat that made everyone move. It was becoming clear that they view their music, and particularly their live show, as therapy. The listener comes there to listen to uplifting songs with spiritual melodies and read lines like “Dreams come true” or “Never forget about love”. These are the ideas our therapists for the night wanted us to think about.
The two ended the epic evening with “Love is Not Enough” and a super chill rendition of “On A Good Day”. Like true professionals, they concluded their group therapy session with the patients imploring that their psychiatrist give them more. However, they had already done their job. The curtain fell and that was it. The streets of Ybor were flooded by a few hundred people with chip-less shoulders and burden-less chests. The vibe continued in to the streets and hopefully in to their every day lives. It is proven that Above & Beyond’s group therapy makes everyone a little more happy.
Video courtesy of Dylan Hotfire & AmpTampaTV youtube channel