Out of all the Anjunabeats fans out there, only a several thousand are able to attend the infrequent milestone Group Therapy celebrations, an exclusive one-night affair located absolutely anywhere around the globe. I have not had the pleasure of being one of those lucky ones (yet!). Until that day arrives, I depend on the optimistically annual Anjunabeats North American Tour to get my fix of this progressive trance label. Last year’s event was easily one of my favourites of 2016, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to hear of its return.
I was very glad that this year’s show took place inside Rebel. Last year, the dance floor and surrounding bar areas were packed shoulder-to-shoulder and it was ultimately a poor hosting choice for the massive turnout. Rebel made a much better choice for capacity size alone; the new lighting grid, video screens, confetti bombs, and smoke cannons were just a bonus.
I arrived at Rebel approximately thirty-five minutes after it opened and was greeted with a surprisingly long line for that time of the night. It was well after 11pm by the time I got through the security and guestlist lines, and the first Anjunabeats artist of the night was already on decks. I settled into the crowd as Oliver Smith transitioned from a remix of Shout to Another Chance. The lineups to get in should’ve been an obvious indication, but I was again surprised by the unusually large crowd size this early in the evening. Last year had a considerable early bird show as well, so I think I will remember the pattern for next year’s event.
Smith played a few of his original mixes, including a preview to his newest unreleased track On The Moon, but his biggest song of the night was his closer – the Smith & Pledger Update of Amsterdam. This edited version, also featured on “Anjunabeats Volume 13”, became a huge hit when Above & Beyond played it at their Group Therapy 200 (ABGT200) show last fall in the city the track is named after. Toronto had our own little group therapy session together as we swayed and sang along to this melodic outro underneath the dangling Anjunabeats logo decorations hanging above our heads.
As expected, but nevertheless impressed, a huge portion of those in attendance were decorated in Anjunabeats or ABGT gear – from shirts to flags to kandi to tattoos! A merchandise booth was located near the outdoor smoking area for those who could afford to purchase anything off the typical overpriced souvenir display. Several of these items had sold out by the end of the night. Keep in mind that tickets for this event were going for $50 the week leading up to it and the door price was $70. The Toronto love and adoration for these boys trumps all price tags.
It was midnight when two of the biggest names on the Anjunabeats label took the stage side-by-side: Andrew Bayer & Ilan Bluestone. In contrast to last year’s individual performances, a #BayerStone b2b set was announced along with the tour itself back in January, inspired by their b2b performance at ABGT200 most likely. They opened their set with Destiny, the most recent collaboration between the two boys. This song debuted at ABGT200 but was only released at the beginning of this tour. Bluestone played his newest unreleased track Frozen Ground early in the set and Bayer played his entire “Anamnesis Trilogy” in reverse order throughout the first seventy minutes. A big moment of the night was when they played the fan favourite We’re All We Need. In contrast to the heavier progressive energy generated during the previous track Nobody Told Me, the room was now filled with explosive party vibes that had everyone dancing!
It was about ninety minutes into their set when Bluestone played Spheres, my favourite song of his. But my individual excitement was nothing compared to everyone else’s when Bayer followed it up with a Once Lydian vs Sun And Moon mix. People go bananas for all the massive A&B hits, and it was great to see the party wasn’t ready to slow down. Knowing the set was to wrap up around 2am, they went out with a bang! Bluestone played Bigger Than Love as his final track of the evening, followed by Bayer’s final track, Super Human. They layered Bluestone’s acapella over Bayer’s melodic tune as the two of them accepted applause and sent love back to the crowd.
The closing headliner of the night was Jason Ross. He began the last hour of the night strong with two of his original songs: Valor, and his epic hit, Atlas. Ross’ musical style delivered a different kind of dynamic to the room with a heavier bass spin on the progressive trance sound. This was especially evident when he played his genre-bending track Higher Love. Much like the previous artists, Ross treated us to another unreleased track, Onyx, as we approached the end of the night. Because the taxi and Uber situation gets messy when hundreds of people try to leave Rebel at once, I started making my way towards the doors during Fly To New York, a popular final track for Ross. I was through the exit doors when I realized I’d mistakenly let my practicality overrule my pleasure; I could distantly hear Lionhearted, one of my all-time favourites, echo through the venue as the night’s final encore.
Many positive things could be said about the night. The type of crowd the Anjunabeats label attracts has always been packed with friendly and considerate patronage and that turnout was no exception. The line up was perfect and Oliver Smith, Andrew Bayer, Ilan Bluestone, and Jason Ross had excellent stage presence with lots of energy. The incredible rings of light in the middle of the room, the massive screens behind the DJ booth, and all the venue’s toys were put to good use during all of the boys’ performances. And above all – the music was phenomenal! I’m not one to miss a Group Therapy night, and with the successful runs of their two North American Tours, here’s hoping more stellar Anjunabeats events are headed our way!
Feel the love from the Anjuna family! Our tour stop is blessed to be the exclusive city featured in this one and only flashback video (only viewable on their FB page):
OLIVER SMITH – 11PM
11:16 Grum – Shout
11:18 Above & Beyond pres. OceanLab – Another Chance (Club Mix)
11:24 Oliver Smith – On The Moon
11:27 Oliver Smith – Mirage
11:31 Oliver Smith – Endorphin
11:34 Above & Beyond – 1001
11:41 Wrechiski – Brief Encounter
11:46 Above & Beyond – No One On Earth (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
11:52 Oliver Smith – Evermore
11:57 Luminary – Amsterdam (Smith & Pledger Update)
ANDREW BAYER B2B ILAN BLUESTONE – 12AM
12:02 Andrew Bayer & Ilan Bluestone – Destiny
12:11 Andrew Bayer – England
12:16 Above & Beyond vs Ilan Bluestone – Black Room Boy (Club Mix) vs Big Ben
12:25 Ilan Bluestone & Jason Ross – Amun
12:40 Ilan Bluestone ft. Giuseppe De Luca – Frozen Ground
12:46 Andrew Bayer – Memories
12:52 Maor Levi & Ilan Bluestone – Dynamic w/ Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall (Acapella)
12:55 Andrew Bayer – Celestial
12:58 Armin Van Buuren ft. Angel Taylor – Make It Right (Ilan Bluestone & Maor Levi Remix)
1:03 M.I.K.E. pres. Push – Strange World (Andrew Bayer Remix)
1:06 Ilan Bluestone – 43 w/ Above & Beyond pres. OceanLab – Sky Falls Down (Acapella)
1:09 Andrew Bayer – Nobody Told Me
1:13 Above & Beyond – We’re All We Need (Ilan Bluestone Remix)
1:21 Arty & Andrew Bayer – Follow The Light
1:28 Andrew Bayer – From The Past
1:31 Above & Beyond – A.I.
1:33 Ilan Bluestone – Spheres
1:40 Andrew Bayer vs Above & Beyond – Once Lydian vs Sun And Moon
1:45 Above & Beyond pres. OceanLab – On A Good Day (Ilan Bluestone Remix)
1:51 Ilan Bluestone ft. Giuseppe De Luca – Bigger Than Love
1:54 Andrew Bayer ft. Asbjorn – Super Human
JASON ROSS – 2 AM
2:00 Jason Ross – Valor
2:05 Wrechiski & Jason Ross – Atlas
2:09 Jason Ross – Coaster
2:11 Ilan Bluestone & Jason Ross – Amun
2:15 Seven Lions & Jason Ross ft Paul Meany – Higher Love
2:22 Jason Ross – Elements
2:30 Above & Beyond ft. Richard Bedford – Alone Tonight (Jason Ross Remix)
2:35 Above & Beyond ft. Alex Vargas – Sink The Lighthouse (Maor Levi Remix)
2:41 Jason Ross – Onyx
2:46 Jason Ross vs Luminary – Amsterdam Cario (Above & Beyond Bootleg)
2:54 Above & Beyond ft. Zoe Johnston – Fly To New York (Above & Beyond vs Jason Ross Club Mix)
2:58 Porter Robinson ft. Urban Cone – Lionhearted (Arty Remix)
Ashlyn Doughty – EDM TOR