It’s taken me a little while to write this. Mostly because I was hesitant to put words over something that spoke for itself. To say it was a moving once in a lifetime experience is a lie, you see, the journey to the Greek was a long and arduous journey that began in the clouds, exactly where A&B’s sounds have the ability to transport you. A small and intimate crowd of friends, Pete Tong, and contest winners were there when the idea of an acoustic show came to fruition, in a hot air balloon above the UK country side with their sounds echoing out to higher beings and a few fortunate souls. When the idea finally touched ground in Porcester Hall, the crowd grew in size and the production grew tremendously. A&B has come to be known for their sold out shows and music that transcends emotions, which is precisely what carried the idea overseas to America, for two nights, to two sold out crowds, and a mass of people open to receiving a gift of sound that will forever live in their dreams.
When you first stepped foot in the Greek Theater a dark indigo sky graced overhead with the heavens looking down, as if even the Gods wanted a glimpse of the performance. Towering white stone walls put your being into perspective as you wandered the venue for refreshments and taking in the awe inspiring scenery. Tree’s that surrounded the venue provided a barrier from the outside world, illuminated dimly by incandescent spotlights that brought about a calming sense of comfort. You were now in Above & Beyond’s world, and nothing else mattered.
Ry-X was slated as the opener in what was possibly the most daunting opening performance of his life. Thousands of patrons patiently waiting for this monumental show, and he was responsible for maintaining their attention for the time being. With a guitar over his shoulder, black cloth draped over his black tee and tights, and a musical companion on the keyboard and drumkit (at the same time), he welcomed you into the dream with haunting spirit enriching song. “Good luck finding me after this, I’m not really any where,” he says as he began his final tune. With minimal (sometimes no) percussion, his set was like that moment when you lie in bed, thinking about how hard you want to dream, to sleep, deeply, and you relinquish all your control to the subconscious as something else guides you into a new world. Ry-X got you there.
And just as you’re about to drift off, the three men who made this dream possible step onstage. Roars. Nonstop applause. Professions of undying love rustling throughout the trees surrounding the venue brought warmth in the brisk hillside overlooking Los Angeles. A massive disco ball hung from overhead, LED string lights glimmering in the background, just enough ambiance to not detract from the amount of instrumentation taking place onstage. Three vocalists, a giant harp player, a string quartet, orchestral percussion, a grand piano, guitars, any sound you’ve ever heard in a A&B production was present, and you were on the edge of your seat begging to hear it all come together.
I want so badly to give you a breakdown of each song, but like any dream, waking up only makes remembering it all the more impossible, and for that, I refuse to wake. What I will share is the feeling, something I wish any sentient being gets to experience at some point in their life. That feeling that starts in your big toe and slowly works its way up your ankle, angling every hair perpendicular to your goosebump-ridden skin. You reach down and hug your knees as you hear a song that has transformed you into the person you are, that song that got you through a hard time, a break-up, divorce, death, whatever roadblock life put in your way. As that song builds you feel that yearning in your groin as your stomach sinks to never before felt depths. Your torso wiggling in excitement as your heart races fervently and illuminates your smile, eyes glossed over in memories of the past, and ears furiously wishing this night will never end.
I don’t get the chance to dream much these days. Work runs late, nights into mornings, and millions of thoughts that consume my nights keep my subconscious at bay, but for one night I was able to dream like that little kid I once was. Who knew no evil in this world, nor the feeling of being made fun of, an unfaltering level satisfaction with oneself washed over for two hours as the most powerful musical performance I’ve ever had the chance to experience processed in my mind. As the final chord rung out to the heavens, and the crowd began to rise, there was no weight associated with your body, yet I’d never felt more grounded. It felt wrong to even talk. As I returned to my place of slumber for the evening, I remember an overwhelming sense of innocence, so pure, so free, yet as I drifted off, I couldn’t help but feel like I was waking up.