Published on September 10th, 2012 | by Daniel Shaw0
A Look Inside the Magic of Group Therapy at Electric Zoo Festival 2012
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy is something special. After months of anticipation, the Group Therapy experience brought thousands of New Yorkers on Labor Day weekend to Randall’s Island for something special. Simply stating that Group Therapy is something special would be an understatement though. Group Therapy is magical.
I arrived to Group Therapy on Friday as Jaytech began and his progressive beats boomed across the Hilltop Arena. I was incredibly impressed with the stage production Made Event had put into the second largest stage of Electric Zoo. The multi-angled LED panels created waves of light that contrasted with the mirrors placed perpendicular to the crowds view in between. The groove was already beginning to build at Group Therapy as Jaytech’s dropped his newest single, “Stranger.”
Jaytech was followed up by a blissful trance set by Andrew Bayer, although I split that time slot with Gesaffelstein, what I heard of Bayer’s set was quite delectable. Norin & Rad absolutely tore the stage apart by the time they took over in the mid-afternoon. A lot of the crowd seemed to be pleasantly surprised by the heavy-hitting, American trance duo. The crowd fed off of the energy of some of their biggest tracks, like “Pistol Whip” and “Bloom.” Even more can be said to Norin & Rad’s ability to produce as later shown by support in Above & Beyond’s set.
Duo followed duo as Gabriel & Dresden took the stage following Norin & Rad. It could have been the insanity of the previous set, but Gabriel & Dresden didn’t seem to move me like the other sets of the day. Their set seemed to lack continuity and energy unlike their predecessors. Despite this, their famous mashup “Language of Promises” was absolutely killer on a full sound system and gave me enough energy to push through towards the legendary Ferry Corsten.
Made Event definitely made some riskier decisions regarding slot times this year and Ferry Corsten’s set time was the prime example. The trance legend himself would be followed up by up-and-comer Mat Zo, but in the end the reward paid off. Ferry took the stage which energized the crowd earlier versus later. Corsten spun a noteworthy set, although I think he underestimated the crowd of the Group Therapy tent. The crowd responded the best to the trancier tracks he dropped versus the progressive and electro-house infused tracks he sampled rather heavily. “Loops and Tings”, his new collaboration with Markus Schulz built the energy wonderfully as we were carried into the night and onto one of my now-favorite DJs, Mat Zo.
Despite an initial rush of people out of the Hilltop Arena as Mat Zo opened, the tent refilled quickly as young Zo begun his eclectic set. He fused funky beats with trancey sounds and wove together a wonderful prelude to the magic that would unfold shortly. If you have not heard any of Zo’s music, tracks like “The Sky (Club Mix)” or “Mozart” and “Rebound” (his collaborations with Arty) are the easiest way to convey the power Zo commands while he is on the decks. Alas, as Zo finished his set, the excitement reached insane levels as Above & Beyond began their set.
Above & Beyond took us on a voyage of emotions on Friday night. I was surprised by how dark of a voyage it was, but it made the end result even more satisfying. Although they cycled through their original and club mixes of their tracks “Alchemy,” “Thing Called Love,” “On My Way to Heaven,” and “Sun & Moon”; they paid homage to the openers of their event by including the Norin & Rad remix of “Air for Life” as well as their originals “Zion” and “5 Finger Death Punch.” In typical A&B style, they communicated with the audience through messages on the LED panels (although the angled screens made this slightly problematic) including a heartfelt tribute to the late Neil Armstrong, which resonated strongly in the hearts of those around me following the event.
As so many talented DJs do, Above & Beyond left us wanting more on Friday night. Withholding their heartbreaking “On a Good Day” from the Group Therapy crowd made me even more excited for their set on the following night. Group Therapy is one experience in life you must witness first hand. Although I passed up many-a-talented-DJ on Friday for the Group Therapy experience I don’t regret it in the slightest. As one young woman put it, “If I had to choose between three days of Electric Zoo or Group Therapy, I’d choose Group Therapy.”