Above & Beyond: Halloween Dance Therapy

Thursday, November 7, 2013

For many San Franciscans, Halloween is that special time of year when inhibitions are tossed out the window and good times are allowed to roll.

Out of the countless Halloween events around The City, I opted to attend a very special, sold-out show at the Civic Center featuring one of the world’s biggest DJ acts, Above & Beyond.

Their special “Halloween Group Therapy” concert follows in the wake of their recently successful Group Therapy album. Above & Beyond has been a heavyweight in the world of dance music for over a decade now, consistently placing in the Top 10 in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs poll.

The Group Therapy concert served not only as a testament to Above & Beyond’s status as a successful DJ group, but also demonstrated just why dance music has gained so much momentum here in the United States in recent years.

I arrived at the Bill Graham Civic Center, costume and all, prepared to dance the night away. A palpable energy permeated the air. College students, young professionals and even some older folk were dressed in an eclectic mix of costumes, which ranged from Walter White of “Breaking Bad” to a bottle of spicy Sriracha sauce.

Even before the headliners went on, people were grooving away to the beats of the opening act, Myon & Shane 54. Already dance music giants in their own right, Myon & Shane rocked the crowd with hard-hitting bass lines from singles such as “Hurricane” to atmospheric anthems like “Outshine.”

When Above & Beyond took the reins, people went nuts. Their show utilized an impressive collection of lasers, LED backlights and even a laptop, which they literally used to talk to the crowd. In between songs, they would type messages like, “Happy Halloween” and “You are OUR therapy.” Part of Above & Beyond’s success lies in their ability to establish a brilliant rapport with their audience, all the while dropping massive tunes to dazzling effect.

They played old crowd-pleasers like, “On a Good Day” and “Can’t Sleep,” as well as their more recent singles, “Mariana Trench” and “Sun & Moon.” Each song seemed more penetrating than the last. Waves of serenity would wash over the floor during heartfelt chords, only to be brought down in a spectacular jolt of energy as lines of hard-hitting electro house blasted from the speakers.

A particularly memorable moment for me was seeing the entire crowd from the second floor of the auditorium. Hands in the air and singing in unison, people chanted the lyrics to “On a Good Day,” while tens of thousands of bright lights and special effects lit up the stage overhead.

Above & Beyond closed the show with their gigantic single, “Thing Called Love.” The crowd, lyrics and massive special effects made for an amazing finale. The energy in the room definitely was therapeutic.