When it was announced in July that ABOVE & BEYOND would be returning to Red Rocks, the annual pilgrimage home to Denver to see my favorite group was underway. I didn’t hesitate in booking my flights, and waited excitedly for two months. Fast forward to Friday, September 20, the day of the show: The weather was uncharacteristically warm for a September day in Denver, which meant as the sun set on Red Rocks, it’d be perfect out. Excited messages from friends and family trickled in throughout the day with anticipation continuing to build.
Above & Beyond has built a loyal community of fans, lovingly named the Anjunafamily, that came in full force. Anjunafamily Denver had arranged a meetup earlier on in the afternoon where friends new and old warmly greeted one another, excitedly exchanging stories in preparation for the night. Music played out from various cars some of which even had ANJUNABEATS license plates.
The doors opened at 6:00pm and attendees settled in for sunset yoga with Elena Brower. Set to the sounds of Above & Beyond’s Flow State, Brower led everyone through a series of stretches meant to center and elicit mindfulness.
“Early in the session Elena Brower got us on the mindset that the only thing that mattered was taking care of ourselves and thinking of others that needed healing. It was so effective that it felt like my phone disappeared, she really did pull us into the moment,” said Daniel Martinez-Peralta. “Towards the end the poses increased in complexity and we were slowly getting ready, emotionally and physically, for the next five hours of madness.”
Spencer Brown kicked off the show with his set including his single "Windows 95 on Acid", ILAN BLUESTONE’s "Will We Remain", a remix of MAT ZO and PORTER ROBINSON’s iconic “Easy”, and even a remix of GRYFFIN’s "Tie Me Down", which was a surprise. Brown closed the set with his collaboration with Above & Beyond "Long Way From Home" written in partnership with Paavo and inspired by touring life.
"Spencer's music is hard to place into one genre since he has so many diverse styles, so I just like to call it 'space house'. He's no longer an up-and-coming producer on the Anjuna label; he's there," said Kevin McLeroy.
“His set was perfection as always. SPENCER BROWN always delivers,” said Ryan Mabry.
Next up was GABRIEL & DRESDEN who delivered a visually stunning and sonically dynamic performance, and who have quickly become one of my favorite Anjuna artists. Their set featured classics from their discography as well as songs from their forthcoming album ‘Remedy.’ They also included a remix of Rufus Du Sol’s “Underwater.” My favorite moments were hearing tracks from ANDREW BAYER’s 'In My Next Life' and of course, the MYON and ELEVVEN remix of "You" and COSMIC GATE’s remix of "Only Road".
At 9:30, it was time for Above & Beyond. Jono and Paavo stepped on stage as "It Is Love" began and the sold out crowd roared. It was thrilling as new songs transitioned and recognition hit for each one. I was stunned at the set list, maybe only not recognizing 4 or 5 songs in the 2-hours. Above & Beyond are known for the uplifting messages they type across the back display and when "Anjunafamily" came on, they spoke about how proud they were of the respect shown by Anjunafamily members. When "Sticky Fingers" played, my sister’s eyes lit up and she gasped in excitement. As a newer member to the Anjunafamily, she had never heard the iconic track live. I had the same reaction to hearing their recent collaboration with SEVEN LIONS "See The End" played. When "Happiness Amplified" came on, we knew that the button push was coming next. My sister and I had our dreams come true when we were chosen to push the button back in July. Waiting in the wings filled with nervous excitement, we sang “Happiness Amplified” on top of our lungs as we waited for Paavo to pull us on stage. The button push was of course to "Sun & Moon" and is always such a beautiful moment to witness. I always get a little emotional when I hear "Peace of Mind" and "Always", but nothing gets me quite like the song Above & Beyond chose to close with, "On A Good Day."
In addition to their many loved originals, the set included hits from other Anjuna artists including "All In" by FATUM, GENIX, JAYTECH and JUDAH, Andrew Bayer’s "Magitek" and their spin on New Order’s “Blue Monday.”
Throughout the night, friends and family members came to where we were standing. I am extremely grateful to have been able to share this experience with them; we sang with such force I was voiceless the next day, and we danced with so much joy we were breathless. This was one of, if not the best Above & Beyond set I’ve ever seen. And to have it all happen in my home, in the picturesque Red Rocks is beyond words.