Last weekend, I attended the Group Therapy Weekender music festival at The Gorge, in Washington state. This trip was a last-minute decision for me, since I had a trip to Denver the weekend before. Definitely still recovering from my back-to-back travel and music festival weekends, but I don’t regret doing both, as this Group Therapy festival was one of my favorites to date (and that’s saying a lot, based on the fact that I’ve been to a pretty large amount of festivals over the years).
For those not familiar with this festival, let me give you a little back story. Group Therapy is a radio show created and hosted by the DJ trio Above & Beyond. The show is live from London every Friday, and features songs and mixes by A&B, and other DJ’s who are on their labels. You can find all of their past shows on their website, in case you’re interested in taking a listen.
I first discovered A&B back in 2015 with the release of their second studio album “We Are All We Need.” I remember going to their show at Navy Pier in Chicago, and to this day, that album is one of the few that can put me in an almost euphoric state, every time I listen to it. It’s THAT good.
Along with their Group Therapy radio show, they also created and own two record labels – Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep. I realize that I’m introducing you to a lot of terms, but stick with me here. Anjunabeats releases trance music, and all of the DJ’s on this label are primarily trance artists. You may have heard of a few – Arty, Audien, ilan Bluestone, Mat Zo, Seven Lions and Tritonal, just to name a few.
Anjunadeep is the other record label, which releases deep house music, and the DJ’s with this label produce all things deep house. Dj’s include Yotto, Lane 8, Dusky and Moon Boots. Each label tours with the various artists, and both come together for the Group Therapy festivals. During these festivals, A&B will do a radio show from the festival, during their set. For this particular festival at The Gorge, all of the Anjunabeats artists were on day 1, and Anjunadeep went on day 2. True Anjuna fans will usually have a love for one label over the other. Personally, I’m #TeamAnjunabeats, since trance is my favorite sub-genre of all time, but here me when I say, Anjunadeep is just as incredible.
So, now that you understand the entire dynamic behind Group Therapy, I wanted to share a little recap of the weekend. First off, we need to talk about The Gorge amphitheater. I can’t believe I had never even heard of this venue until a month ago. It’s wayyyy prettier than Red Rocks, and way bigger as well. It’s a camping venue, since it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We did the highest VIP level you could do, which included RV camping (because there’s no way I would ever camp in a tent for a festival), box seats with a waiter, chairs, and plenty of room just for our group, access to the VIP indoor bar, and access to anywhere else we wanted to go around the venue. We also had backstage access because one of the guys in our group knows one of the artists, so we spent some time back there as well. Half of my day on Saturday was spent hanging out in Luttrell’s dressing room, along with Ben Bohmer, and their managers, friends, etc. Pretty epic.
After going all out for this festival, there’s no way I wouldn’t do VIP the next time around. It’s expensive, but trust me, the experience is above and beyond (see what I did there) anything else I’ve been a part of, and I wouldn’t do it any other way. And, you have like, a year to save up for it, if you want to go next time around. So start your planning now.
I’m not going to go through every artist I saw, because with this type of music, they all run together, in the best way possible. But I will share some highlights:
The VIP Experience – like I’ve already said, no other festival compared to the VIP experience at The Gorge. Especially for a camping festival, I want to be as comfortable as possible, and this was made possible with the RV’s. Having our own large area with the box seats to freely move around, dance, and sit with only our friends, made the amount I spent on the tickets worth it. Trust me, just do it next time.
Above & Beyond’s Set – A&B closed out night 1, and it was truly one of the best sets I’ve seen in years. Magic is the truest word I can think of to describe it. If you’ve seen them live before, you probably get the idea. If you haven’t, go watch one of their sets, then come back and read this. I’ve seen A&B a few times, and this was by far the best set of theirs I’ve ever seen.
Backstage Access – obviously this was a highlight from the weekend. I watched all of Ben Bohmer’s set from the side of the backstage, then went to Luttrell’s dressing room and hung out with him, various other DJ’s, their managers and friends. So yea, NBD.
Yotto’s Set & Anjunadeep – like I said, I’ve always been team Anjunabeats over Anjunadeep, but after experiencing an entire day of Anjunadeep live, I’m not sure I can say that anymore. I always knew how much I loved my deep house, but never knew I could experience it on the level that I did this weekend. At most festivals, deep house is always put aside on the smaller stage, with the lesser-know acts. It was so incredible to experience a show where the deep house IS the main event. Yotto truly rocked my world and I walked away from this weekend with an even deeper love and appreciation for the deep house.
The Pivot After Party – I’m only including this highlight because the after party on day 2 was where I had THE most incredible grilled cheese sandwich that I’ve ever had in my life. True story. Both nights of the festival, there was an after party in the campgrounds area, called The Pivot. Anjuna DJ’s performed, and I actually wish I would’ve stuck around for more of these shows, but my lame self couldn’t hardly stay up past 2am. So I went, got a grilled cheese, and called it a night.
So, after this weekend, I now have an even deeper love for the Anjuna music and the people that come along with it. It’s also safe to say that I’m slowly transiting into a die-hard Anjuna follower, above all other EDM music. I’ve been around the EDM scene for a while now, and the older I get, the more specific and narrower my taste in certain sub-genres get. What you’ll notice about the Anjuna music festivals is that the crowd is a little older than your typical EDM music. The vibe you get from the Anjuna festival-goers is that they truly are there for the music, and that’s the most important thing to me. I truly love the music, and the Anjuna music is some of the best EDM music you’ll hear, and that’s not an opinion, it’s just a fact.