Category: Concert Recap


Last night I saw Above & Beyond for the seventh time, and what I think may have been their best.

Words cannot explain the emotion I felt at Above & Beyond Acoustic, although I will attempt to convey my feelings in some written manner. It was just as magical as I expected, and yet much, much more.

To no one’s surprise, Above & Beyond’s music translated beautifully and seamlessly into an acoustic setting. I think the true feat of Above & Beyond Acoustic was its testament to the musical and artistic talents of Jono, Paavo and Tony. I had no idea Tony sang and the three of them combined to play an array of musical instruments that might shock those unfamiliar with the musical acumen necessary to be a successful electronic music producer. Along with piano, they each played bass, guitar and even the xylophone!

I usually write these blog posts with a lot of background and information, but since Above & Beyond Acoustic was truly for the fans, so shall be this post. In my opinion, Above & Beyond organized this acoustic display not only to showcase the range of their musical talents, but also to thank their dedicated fans. They played songs that you would NEVER hear during their recent DJ sets or maybe ever again. Songs such as “Miracle,” “No One On Earth,” “Satellite” and “Sirens of the Sea” were hauntingly poetic and far surpassed my expectations of what I thought it would be like to hear them performed live.

Hearing Zoe Johnston in the flesh was an out-of-body experience for me. Having sung her songs aloud at raves, clubs and in my bedroom countless times, finally hearing her live was just unbelievable. The acoustic rendition of “Good For Me” gave me goose bumps and was my favorite of the night. I always assumed Above & Beyond altered her voice for the studio production, but she sounded even more heavenly in person.

If I may pass criticism on one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen in the slightest, it would be that the presence of Justine Suissa and Richard Bedford were sorely missed. Now don’t get me wrong – Annie Drury and Alex Vargas sang beautifully, but they don’t hold a candle to the originals, particularly Justine. Her vocals on Sirens Of The Sea have historically brought me to tears and hearing Ms. Drury sing her vocals left me yearning for another rendition.

But all in all, the night was unforgettable and probably my favorite show to date. Tony cried, Skrillex played guitar, and I shudder at the thought that I may never see Above & Beyond perform acoustically again. I was absolutely blown away. Edge of my seat, singing aloud, and floored throughout the entire thing.

I filmed snippets of every song from the show with the exception of “Stealing Time” and three unreleased songs. The quality is not that great, but hopefully this playlist gives you an idea of what it was like:

Fortunately, my adventure did not stop there however. This afternoon I met two colleagues for lunch, when an hour or so into our meeting I glance at the table next to me and see Jono! I immediately started trembling and completely freaked out. Meeting a member of Above & Beyond was something I’d only dreamed of.

After some encouragement from my coworkers, I mustered up the courage to go speak to him. He was sitting with his family, whom I presume were his brother, parents and maybe an uncle. I was terrified! I told Jono that I attended the previous night’s show and commended them for their stellar performance. He then introduced me to his family and thanked me for coming to the show. He was so nice! I was so nervous that after his dad made a joke about his hereditary baldness, I called him Jono’s grandfather (FML). Between that and the picture we took, I kind of blacked out. But it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Following the interaction, I went back to my table and could not stop thinking about all the things I forgot to say. I had played the situation in my head hundreds of times and it did not go according to plan at all.

I would have thanked him for the tremendously positive impact his music has had on my life and how profoundly moved I am by so many of his songs. I would have mentioned that I saw Above & Beyond perform seven times, or that I wrote the craziest Above & Beyond’s Top 20 Songs of All-Time post on the Internet. All because I love them so much. And I totally blew it! But hey, maybe our paths will cross again.

After all, life is full of small moments like these.

Last night marked the third time I have seen Avicii in concert (now more than anyone else), and again he did not disappoint. Avicii may not have played a lot of my favorite tracks, but nonetheless he killed it. One problem with Avicii’s sets that differ from a set I would play, for instance, is that there aren’t enough bangers. “Levels” and “Jump Around” might have been the only moments of his set that the whole crowd was jumping. Maybe because it was not a regular EDM crowd, but in my opinion, Avicii doesn’t play enough Electro House. However, you get what you pay for when you buy into high tones (inside joke).

Avicii is also a much improved DJ, despite using fader effects to get out of almost every other song.

I have to give props to the Orpheum for putting on a sick show however. I was very impressed with their sound system despite the opening DJs being way too quiet. The light show was quite underwhelming, but that was made up for by my first experience with smoke cannons (only the second coolest addition to lights as FIRE).

Although, I have to say Avicii at Segredo last year was more fun than this show because of its intimate confines, and the overload of massive DJs coming through Madison this year. Yesterday was still my favorite DJ set I have seen this school year.

I can’t believe people had to pay between $45-$60 to see Avicii with two local openers! Hey Von (one of the openers), if you are reading this, you’re music is terrible and I have no comment on your skills as a DJ because I was not paying attention.

It was half the price last year.

Avicii played about four or five songs that I didn’t know, including two in-a-row towards the end of his set prior to the encore. One of which did not seem mastered yet though because the bass was so weak on the drop.

I’m having a little trouble recalling what tracks he played by other DJs, but highlights for me were “Calling” and “Dangerous (Deniz Koyu & Johan Wedel Remix).” Somebody played “Hydra”  and “You’ve Got The Love (Mark Knight Remix),” but I don’t remember if it was Avicii or not. The latter might have been a mash-up with “Fade Into Darkness.”

I’d love to hear what other people thought. I know it was many people’s first time at an EDM concert, but please, please don’t call last night a rave. Not even close.

Final thought: Avicii @ The Orpheum was a great way to spend a Tuesday night during syllabus week.

(I’ve never done one of these so give me a break)