Pier 17 isn’t known for electronic events and feels almost too clean. But the new home for Anjunabeats Outdoors NYC worked out famously!
Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep “Open Air” have been an annual mainstay for the Anjunafamily. For those in the NYC area, the pilgrimage took them to Brooklyn Mirage year after year, including this year’s edition of Anjunadeep. So when it was announced that the sister show was rebranded as “Anjunabeats Outdoors NYC” and moved to Pier 17, I have to say, I was skeptical. Could a city-run venue with little history of supporting electronic music and an early noise curfew pull off such a magical event? Well, I’m happy to report that they not only pulled it off, they pulled it off in a newly magical way.
Pier 17 is the rooftop of a shopping and dining facility at the storied South Street Seaport; these days rebranded as just The Seaport. And therein lies the rub – along with that rebranding about a decade ago was a “revival” of the “rundown space.” The thing is, New Yorkers loved that rundown space! It felt like classic NYC and not a tourist trap. But tourists hated it and thought it was dangerous, so the city took this to heart when they decided to rebuild and clean up the area. Now there are more fashion brands, celebrity chefs, and outlandish prices. Then again, I did ice skate over the water last winter to catch Devo on Pier 17, so it can’t be all bad.
As I said, I was skeptical about having a signature Anjunafamily event here but was open to what was to come. My concerns were around security (notoriously tight and impolite), the almost sanitized space, and the early curfew, to name a few. I also thought it was smaller than Mirage, but I think it’s actually closer in size than I thought, and, ultimately, the strict city-ruled capacity limits mean that sold-out shows still have some room. And, at least on this day, security was smiling, professional, and polite. We were off to a good start!
Anjunabeats with the NYC skyline was, in and of itself, beautiful enough to assuage my fears.
Doors opened at 3pm and local favorite SunrYse was on the decks from 3-4, so we made sure to get there early and were not disappointed. Watching her grow from a nascent local to a global traveler supporting countless Anjuna artists and other notables like Markus Schulz has been so beautiful. While the opening artist always plays to a smaller crowd, the local draw was significant, and a dense and dancing mob packed in right up front for her set.
One of my favorite things about opening acts is when they interact with fans, one on one, and SunrYse did this in droves. She bounced behind the decks while smiling, pointing, and waving at every person in the crowd. Despite being longtime friends with SunrYse, it still warms my heart whenever she picks me out of the crowd to smile and wave. Did I mention her absolute fire set that beautifully set the tone for the next seven hours? Yup, nailed it!
I was so into what SunrYse was throwing down that I didn’t even take in the views until her set was over.
Although I’d been there once before, there’s such a different feeling between a punk rock band and electronic music, especially with the Anjuna emotions. Immediately behind the stage is the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building can be seen from several spots in the crowd. Not to mention being right on the Hudson River with views of Brooklyn across the way. It was so much more magical than I thought it would be!
It wasn’t long after SunrYse that Amy Wiles picked up right where she left off. Amy kept up the pace and layered on more and more throughout her hour. And speaking of hours, in chatting with those in the audience, everyone liked the “everyone gets an hour” format! Amy Wiles and anamē were the only names on the lineup that I hadn’t seen live, and I was looking forward to both of their sets. I’m happy to report that they both blew me away, and I’ll be looking for them in future lineups. And, oh boy, the energy anamē brought was so infectious! Is there something in that Scandinavian water they drink?
Gabriel & Dresden were up next, and it was just such a joy to see Josh back in the game!
When I put “filthy beats” in the title here, it’s the Gabriel & Dresden, Mat Zo, and Andrew Bayer portion of the show I’m mostly referring to here. Despite talking to Josh before the set, I seriously began to cry tears of joy seeing him back on stage with Dave. Only a few months ago, we asked Dave what it’s like to tour solo when you are a duo, and we’re all so happy to see the duo back in action. There’s just something special about seeing them together, and to know that Josh’s health scare has resulted in such positive changes for him is heartwarming.
Smooth melodies, emotive atmospheres, and filthy transitions were the day’s story, but let’s talk briefly about one special sound: “Other Eye.” This collaboration between Gabriel & Dresden, Sub Teal, and Andrew Bayer is special. When I told Josh I loved it because “it’s old school trance, yet somehow very modern,” he responded, “I’m glad you got the memo!” So we lost ourselves in the vibe when all four of them were on stage together, playing out this amazing new track to us.
The bottom line is that “clean and sanitized” doesn’t have to be “plain and uninteresting.”
Over the years of warehouse parties and my history with ’90s underground raves, I guess I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that our music can’t be enjoyed in “clean” spaces. I still may object to stadium and arena shows, but that’s mostly because the seats are in the way of the dancing. But yeah, clean spaces can highlight our filthy beats. And, heck, what’s so bad about a clean, air-conditioned bathroom? Or a 10pm curfew that allows you to still go out afterward, even if, in my case, it was to finally see the Barbie movie…