Friday night, the DJs brought good vibes and good music to Metropolitan Nightclub.
[Updated] Friday night, Anjunabeats artists Andrew Bayer and Ilan Bluestone did not play a traditional back-to-back set at the Metropolitan. They did in Amsterdam earlier this fall, but on the weekend each of them joined the other on stage for a large portion of the show. They broke down the usual opener/headliner hierarchy and performed as two friends jamming out and having fun with the opportunity to share the music they love. After his own performance, Andrew Bayer remained on stage with Bluestone and they performed the unreleased collaborative track that they opened their Amsterdam set with.
Bayer has always been inspired by Anjunabeats releases and its “Music unites us all” motto. He sent the label demos until he was finally signed in 2010 and released his first album, It's Artificial, in 2011. Bluestone joined the label in 2012 and quickly gained the attention of industry leaders like Armin Van Buuren and Pete Tong.
The trance trio Above & Beyond started Anjunabeats as a London-based electronic music label in 2000, and it has launched the careers of Mat Zo, Arty, and Oliver Smith in addition to Bayer, and Bluestone. In the last 16 years, the label has come to stand for an inclusive brand of house and trance, and because of it gained a worldwide fan base. It has released more than 300 tracks under the label, and they are featured in Anjunabeats’ weekly podcast “Group Therapy with Above & Beyond” (or ABGT for short), which a different member of Above & Beyond hosts each week. In this program, the leaders of Anjunabeats update listeners on new electronic music and artists to look out for.
A special feature of the podcast is how it utilizes social media posts from people all over the world that want to express their appreciation for the podcast and label. This inclusivity keeps the Anjunabeats artists in touch with their fans and makes fans feel like part of what they call the 'Anjuna Family.' The hope is that fans from around the world are able to feel close to one another, much like the way Bayer and Bluestone have become good friends, even though they come from Washington D.C. and London respectively.
The podcast celebrates every 50th episode by hosting an extravagant night of live performances from label producers. These events bring fans from all over the world together in a new city each year to dance in the same arena. Bayer and Bluestone performed a back-to-back set at this year's ABGT200 live celebration in Amsterdam. In an interview with Above & Beyond on the night of this performance, the two discussed the prospect of doing a lot more work together, and their chemistry and friendship was obvious when they performed at the Metropolitan.
Saturday night’s show felt like the group therapy electronic music lovers needed after the election season. Bayer and Bluestone create music that is both uplifting and dynamic. The long developments and intricate melodies of their songs take listeners on a short journey through a range of emotions, with an ultimately euphoric resolution.
Attendance at the Metropolitan was relatively low compared to other shows at this venue, which likely made the show one of the most intimate on their respective tours. The experience felt more like a standard night out at a club, where everyone had room to bust any dance move they felt come on, or move to and from the bar easily. The positive, relaxed vibe in the Metropolitan transcended the Anjunabeats attitude.
Andrew Bayer was the first of the two to perform, and took control of the decks at about midnight. He played Above & Beyond's "Sticky Fingers" and "Hello" from Anjunabeats Volume 11, released in 2014. Later, he spun Arty's remix of "Punk" by Ferry Corsten, a track that gained the fellow Anjunabeats artist early popularity on the dance scene back in 2011. Bayer and Arty released a collaboration this year "Follow the Light," a prime example of the seamlessness with which two Anjunabeats artists can blend their styles. His set also included "Memories" and "Nobody Told Me," two of Bayer's most popular releases last year. The latter features a more disjointed breakbeat with a heavy bass drop, while the former is a melodic trance piece that builds patiently. Bayer played his own new and extremely transformative remix of trance classic "Strange World" by Push and closed his set with "Superhuman," from his Do Androids Dream EP.
Bluestone began with a mashup of "Sky Falls Down" by Oceanlab and his own "43." This track features the gentle vocal stylings of Justine Suissa, who many fans of Anjunabeats have fallen in love with through Above & Beyond. on this mashup, he blended the old and the new sounds of the label. Bluestone played more Above & Beyond classics in his set such as "Black Room Boy" and "On a Good Day." His set featured two of his most popular tracks "Spheres" (2014) and the chart-topping "Bigger Than Love" (2016), which are fan-favorites. At the end of his set, Bluestone played his remix of Above & Beyond's "We Are All We Need." The lyrics and title state the perfect message for the United States during such a divisive time.
For both artists, shows like the one at Metropolitan are what Anjunabeats is all about: unity through music. Intralabel collaborations and mashups create a sense of unity among artists that other labels cannot boast. Crowd and fan interaction from its producers generate a wealth of fan loyalty, but most importantly, the mindset of unity spills over into the crowd. For music that isn't on the radio and doesn't have the public appeal that most other genres of music do, the Anjuna Family dances as one.
Updated November 17, 5:30 a.m.
The photo has been updated to actually depict Bluestone and Bayer, and the show took place on Friday, not Saturday. The story has been updated to reflect those changes. The text has also been amended to speak of the need for unity after the election season and not simply the election of Trump.