Above & Beyond mesmerizes fans at New York State Fairgrounds

English EDM trio Above and Beyond played all their fan-favorites at a newly opened concert venue on Thursday.

The venue was packed body-to-body, people were moving to their own beats in secluded corners, and tears were flowing as the crowd echoed the words of Above & Beyond's every song.

The lines of people waiting to rush into S.I. Hall at the New York State Fairgrounds on Feb. 8 began at 7 p.m., like clockwork, to see who could get in front of the barrier for the opener. An hour later, Luttrell started to pump out music against visuals of moving landscapes. The visuals flowed with the beat of the songs and gave the room a calmer vibe than would be expected of a typical EDM concert. The audience did not appear to enjoy the calm vibe, and Luttrell took note by trying to pick up the rhythm and hype up the crowd.

Photo: Paul Schelsinger
Above and Beyond fans hold signs when the group played "Sun and Moon" at the Fairgrounds Feb. 8.

Luttrell's audience seemed minuscule in comparison to the large venue, which felt like a refurbished warehouse with a small stage in front. As the energy of the room dissipated by the lack of fluidity from Luttrell’s beats, the room filled with the smell of the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que served to VIP ticket holders. After over an hour of DJing, Luttrell ended his set with a sad attempt at starting a clap which was followed by one or two audience members before he left the stage.

When 9 p.m. rolled around, the crowd in the room became packed like sardines. The moment the lights went down, and the stage flashed the Above & Beyond logo, the only audible sound was the roar of the crowd. The visuals for their set were more colorful and vivid than I expected and told stories through their images. They specifically tailored each song to visuals and words that Paavo Olavi Siljamaeki wrote in real time as Jono Grant cranked the tunes. The members greeted the crowd by projecting "We still remember the last time here in Syracuse. Your energy and positivity is the stuff of dreams,” on the screen as the music started to play softly underneath.

Once the set began, the audience became a mirror to Above & Beyond. When the DJs jumped, the crowd followed while singing back every word. Crowd favorites included “Tightrope," “Another Chance," “Northern Soul,” “Sun & Moon," and “Thing Called Love.” When “Sun & Moon” came on, the audience screamed back the lyrics at the DJs and jumped together with more energy than I had seen the entire night. There is a tradition that developed on accident within the Above & Beyond fanbase of “pushing the button” during “Sun & Moon.” The DJs selected a girl from the crowd with a sign that read: “May we please push the button” and “It’s my mom’s first concert, let her push the button." The girl pushed the button. The beat dropped, and the audience went wild.

“Thing Called Love” elicited a different response. As the night was coming to a close, people began openly crying on and with one another as the words “life is full of surprises, so if you love someone don't wait. Let me know tonight," flashed on the screen. Confetti dropped from the ceiling onto all of the listeners.

After the show ended, audience member Joey Johnson said, “Above & Beyond definitely exceeded my expectations. I have been looking forward to seeing them for so long and was not disappointed." Most of the crowd felt that same energy and began to chant “one more set,” but faded within a few moments after Above & Beyond didn't respond.

Though the energy of the night was inconsistent, there was an unmatchable vibe from Above & Beyond that would make any EDM fan step dance with the vivacity of a young child. If you’re interested in being so entwined in the stories of music you want to cry, it would be a mistake not to check out Above & Beyond the next time they’re in your area.

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