Above & Beyond’s Red Rocks Common Ground show hit me with all the feels. The combination of Anjunafam, my furry friends, the awe-inspiring scenery and ephemeral sets made my heart feel like it burst from my chest. Having seen the boys twice at their Portland Common Ground shows, my hopes of getting a more banging set were fulfilled. And I’ll admit I was apprehensive about the weather since this Hawaii girl doesn’t do well in the cold, but the misty 48 degrees was just another excuse to hug one another and dance even harder.
I arrived with my buddy John early enough to attend the Anjunafamily meetup, only to find we had to hike a mile to the North lot. Many stairs later, we easily found the glittery people in Anjuna gear holding rainbow umbrellas. I was reunited with friends I hadn’t seen since ABGT250 and new ones from my previous 3 days in Vegas for the EDC ramp up. After we took a group photo I discovered the tickets I was gifting new friends were at Will Call, another mile away. So the crew split up and off we went hiking again!
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Fairchild was playing when we finally walked in and I was pleasantly surprised to hear a more energetic set than those I’ve heard from him in the past. We made it up to our buddies in Row 28 about the same time Moon Boots took the stage with a Korg piano, drumset, synth and live vocalists. Focusing on material from his First Landing album, the groovy Power got me swaying and thinking about “chemistry, cause when” I’m with my Anjunafam and they’re “next to me, there’s electricity.” With views of Denver behind the stage, slowly vanishing in the descending clouds, a blonde vocalist came out singing I Want Your Attention, and she definitely got it from the crowd. Then the first surprise of the night happened when Moon Boots came at us with a funky version of Janet Jackson’s If that definitely got me moving.
John, my Anjuna Angel (always a little extra), got us VIP tickets, so we decided to check out a better view of Mat Zo, my most anticipated act of the night. He began with a slowly growing intensity, the sound gradually soaring, and just like Superman I raised my fists and face in the air feeling the wind blow past. After seeing Porter Robinson play Easy in Vegas 2 nights prior, I’d been hoping for a recap from Mat, so when I heard those funky house throwback notes, my body moved of its own volition to the beat of “lovin’ you is easy.” The second surprise of the night was his remix of The Knocks Collect My Love and just as my lashes were collecting drops of mist, at that moment I could’ve collected the love in the air. But when I heard the opening notes of his track I’d been most hoping for, I straight up lost my cool, and it’s not like I have much to begin with. The breathy voice of Linnea Schossow had me shrieking THE SKY! and shaking poor John. I’d already felt a bit like I was flying, but this song lifted my feet off the ground as I was tugged skyward by my heartstrings, me the marionette and Mat Zo my puppeteer. As his set came to a close and I descended back to Earth, I was consoled by the fact that I get to see him again at Anjunabeach in a month, and yet again, he’ll be my most anticipated act of the day.
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Like many ardent Above & Beyond fans, I’d wished for a set peppered with older hits and the boys heard my prayers. Having spent much of my childhood in the ocean, I’ve always fancied myself a mermaid diving “past the coral ledge,” so when they opened with Sirens of the Sea, my soul felt buoyant. They quickly launched into Common Ground material and this was about the time we sacrificed our VIP view to be surrounded by the love of our friends. With bursts of red lights flashing on Creation and Ship Rock, A&B’s recently released Red Rocks accompanied us up the stairs. We found our friends just in time for a singalong to Grum’s Shout and then a little Naked.
I’ve found at Anjuna events, we all feel freed by the unparalleled acceptance in the crowd, so when they dropped the EDC version of Walter White and the crowd screamed SAY MY NAME, my heart swelled at our abilities in that moment to be recognized for the individuals we are. And when the words “it takes real courage to be your true self” flashed across the screen, I enthusiastically pointed them out to my buddy Matt. I’d recently told him I’ve never felt more authentically and vibrantly my true self as I have in the last year and Above & Beyond has been a big part of that. But it got even better, cause bless their hearts, they dropped into my Common Ground favorite Alright Now. Swaying along with my girl Gretchen, I admired the smiling faces and the lights illuminating the mist that was kissing my face.
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With Zoe Johnston’s first inhale, we sang along to We’re All We Need, an A&B track that cemented my belief that everything I need is found within. If you read my article on depression, suicide and the passing of Avicii, you’ll know I’ve spent time in a dark place where “I was supremely alone.” A&B fans agree that it’s as if their lyrics are pulled from the depths of our hearts, both the agonies and the joys. At this point, I felt so full of happiness I didn’t think it could be topped til I recognized the first notes of On a Good Day (Gareth Emery Metropolis mix), the Oceanlab track that lit the fuse to my once guttering flame. I grabbed Matt as it’s been the one track he’s always wanted to hear the boys play and we all mobbed him, hugging, and jumping up and down together. Seeming a bit overwhelmed, he sat down to shed a few happy tears and then bounced back up to dance and sing as we all embraced. Though it was midnight, cold, and foggy, at that moment I’d “never seen the sun shine brighter” and I felt warmed through by the love of my friends.
If life is made of small moments like these, the final U.S. Common Ground stop at Red Rocks left an indelible mark on my soul. I’ll never forget the natural beauty of the venue, where my exultant heart mimicked the rocks shooting up to the sky. If “happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste,” then Above & Beyond’s Common Ground Red Rocks show tastes of euphoria. Every time I think the boys can’t outdo themselves, they prove me wrong, and I’m looking forward to being wrong yet again at Anjunabeach!
*photo credits to Jackie Dupor and Steven Pope*