Lately, it seems that with each passing day another headline streams across our screens that continue to further divide us; whether it be a political circus, social unrest or even a constant threat of war. Now more than ever we are interconnected with the world in an instant by the evolving technologies that surround us, and yet we are just as easily disconnected. But where words fail, music speaks and there is one trio in particular that continues to search for the similarities within each of us that make us more alike than not, a common ground.
Enter Above & Beyond– the U.K. trance group made up of Tony McGuinness, Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki have long been admired for not only their progressive trance beats but also for their messages of love, empowerment, self-acceptance and overall inspiration that their lyrics contain. Since their formation, the English group has grown to become a titan in the EDM scene, with the backbone being their record label, Anjunabeats. Over the course of their career, Above & Beyond have produced three artist albums (Tri-State, Group Therapy and We Are All We Need) as well as two acoustic albums and host their extremely popular weekly Group Therapy Radio show. In September of 2017, during their 250th episode celebration, they announced their upcoming album, Common Ground, and its accompanying world tour.
The Common Ground North American Tour kicked off in a big way over New Year's Weekend 2017 with opening acts Grum, Spencer Brown and Gabriel & Dresden as well as an unprecedented three-hour set by Above & Beyond. Such a big debut required the boys to acquire a big space, and at 347,000 square feet, the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center was the perfect venue to hold the legion of fans the group has in Southern California.
From the early hours of the afternoon, the line of eager fans steadily grew in size. With each passing moment, the anticipation kept building as enthusiasts of the British DJs showcased their devotion with signs, totems, flags, apparel, and kandi accessories that would eventually stand out in the sea of bodies that packed the convention center floor.
Spencer Brown had the honor of entertaining the crowd as the opening act and had much to showcase. As a newcomer to the Anjunabeats label, the San Francisco native has become a quick fan favorite with hits such as “Embarcadero”, “Vernal” and his popular remixes of “Higher Love” by Seven Lions and Jason Ross as well as “Northern Soul” by Above & Beyond. Throughout his hour on stage, Brown had the audience dancing early on as the crowds continued to trickle in.
Scottish DJ Grum took to the turntables after Brown and continued to play the progressive beats he has become known for. Throughout his one-hour set, Grum played some of his biggest hits including “Shout” and “Under Your Skin”.
The last hour before the headlining trio took to the stage belonged to Gabriel & Dresden, who made a triumphant return to the scene in 2011 after a years-long breakup. The duo has since then been playing the festival scene and pumped out singles like “Play it Back” and “Rise Up”. In September, as part of Above & Beyond's Group Therapy 250th episode celebration, it was announced that the group would release their upcoming album “The Only Road” on Anjunabeats. The duo played a few songs off their latest album on stage including “This Love Kills Me” and “White Walls”.
Exactly at ten o'clock, the lights dimmed, the music grew and the screen behind the stage read ‘HELLO' as the crowd erupted in cheer and the quest to finding common ground in Los Angeles began. Over the course of three euphoric hours, Above & Beyond took their audience on a roller coaster of emotions all while keeping them dancing and singing along to their favorite tracks.
These tracks included fan favorites such as “Hello”, “We're All We Need”, “Black Room Boy”, “Sun & Moon”, “Good For Me”, “Salva Mae 2.0”, “Walter White” and “Blue Sky Action”. This being a tour to showcase their new album, the trio also played newer records which are already becoming future favorites including “Northern Soul”, “Tightrope”, “Red Rocks” and “My Own Hymn”. Missing from the three-hour set were (surprisingly) “Satellite” and “Can't Sleep”, as well as shorted renditions of “A Thing Called Love” and “Alone Tonight”, all huge early hits for the boys.
Highlights of the show include a mashup of “Sirents of the Sea” by their project Oceanlab and “The Chant” by Thomas Gold, “Silence” by Delerium in the Tiesto remix, “Black Room Boy” and “Big Ben” by Ilan Bluestone mashed up and of course, their extremely popular ‘Push The Button' segment where they pick a member of the audience to drop the beat in one of their songs.
Throughout the evening, Above & Beyond took thousands of their followers on a journey of euphonic ecstasy where the worries of the outside world stayed on Figueroa Street and the overwhelming feeling of peace, love, unity, and respect reigned. As the city of angels ushered in a new year, Above & Beyond helped bring with it common ground.
The North American leg of Above & Beyond's Common Ground tour is going on now. Tickets and tour dates can be found here.