Afterlife took over Los Angeles for the first time, bringing an impressive lineup and stunning visuals that took the crowd’s breath away.
The rise of Afterlife has been impressive, especially for someone who has followed Tale Of Us for a decade. The duo, comprised of Carmine Conte (MRAK) and Matteo Milleri (Anyma), launched the label side of the brand in 2016 and quickly gained traction with impressive releases. Yet it wasn’t until the sound of melodic techno began to take hold of the scene that the duo catapulted themselves into the greater reaches of the dance music community, and it’s safe to say that they’ve solidified their place at the top ever since.
If you’ve tuned in to social media over the past few years, then there’s no doubt that you’ve come across a video from an Afterlife show, especially the stunning stage they brought to Tulum. The iconic visuals they use have infected platforms like Instagram and TikTok, with the byproduct being an increasing number of people exposed to their soundscapes to launch their careers further into the cosmos. So when they finally announced their long-awaited show in Los Angeles, I knew I needed to be there.
Security was a breeze, and Layla Benitez was on the decks when I arrived at the venue on Saturday, but I decided to make a quick pit stop to get a smoothie and check out the merch tent before seeing the whole stage myself. Surprisingly, there was virtually no merch to be purchased at the venue, with just a handful of hats, fans, and vinyl copies of Anyma’s Genesys left after the previous night’s festivities. I was surprised that nothing had been saved for those attending Saturday, and even more surprised there wasn’t any merch for this specific show, but I was there for the music, so I moved on with my evening.
We crept closer toward the stage, noticing the sheer volume of bars and food options for attendees. Due to the plethora of bars, I don’t think I waited more than a minute to grab a drink or get a water bottle, and while I didn’t end up grabbing anything to eat, there never seemed to be a long wait either. Even the bathrooms were easy to access and a quick trip. Perhaps this was just my luck at times, but I think it’s a testament to the layout of LA State Historic Park and how fitting it’s become for festival experiences.
Before nightfall, LA State Historic Park felt a bit barren.
Sure, the bars and vendors lined the sides of the venue, but other than the massive video screen, the production was minimal. For someone who had only seen videos of other Afterlife shows online, I felt there would be more in production, especially for the debut in Los Angeles. There were no performers or art pieces (that I saw, at least), making it clear that the giant screen would be the central focus of the experience… and at least that was massive.
The tunes from Layla Benitez drew us to the crowd’s edge as attendees began to flock in by the minute. Waves of people would enter and begin dancing away, and where we were positioned on the left side allowed many of our friends to bump into us easily. Reuniting with friends old and new alike is always a blessing, and our group quickly swelled to a large size as we found what would be our spot for the rest of the night.
To me, the party really began when Cassian took the stage.
Cassian has been one of my favorites over the past few years, with releases on labels ranging from Rose Avenue and Anjunadeep to Odd One Out and, of course, Afterlife. Cassian’s set was magical as the melodic maestro ran through track after track to let the set swell with energy. An excellent addition to his performance, Pryda’s “The Beginning,” helped set the night in motion. Soon after, Adriatique had taken control of the decks to whisk everyone away to a different state of mind.
Adriatique’s performance took the experience to the next level as the bright, vibrant video screen hypnotized the crowd. The Swiss duo has become legends in their own right over the past decade and a half, with countless tracks that have won house and techno lovers over. Their performance was sublime, kicking everyone into a frenzy on the expansive dancefloor as they churned through hit after hit, including a few remixes of Rüfüs Du Sol’s biggest tracks. Meanwhile, the gorgeous visuals continued to pop out from the screen, giving everyone a taste of the vibrancy that was to come from Anyma and Tale Of Us.
After a brief break, it was time for Anyma to bring the heat, and his performance was the talk of the town. Starting with his collaboration with Chris Avantgarde, “Eternity,” he dove deep into his recent album Genesys while also layering in a handful of IDs and a remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Say Yes To Heaven.” It seemed like each drop was paired with a visual that took my breath away. The closing run of tracks that included his take on “Turn On The Lights,” Eric Prydz’s remix of “Consciousness,” and “You Make Me,” his collaboration with Rüfüs Du Sol, left a lasting impression as well.
Then, it was time for Tale Of Us to bring the night to a close as MRAK joined Anyma on stage.
After all of these stunning displays of sounds and visuals, I was curious about what would come from Tale Of Us to keep the show fresh and exciting, but I had no idea that they would deliver a barrage of IDs. There were a few tunes from the likes of Massano, Rebūke, Chris Avantgarde, Kevin de Vries and Mau P, Dyzen, and Argy & Omnya littered throughout the set, but I was left in a stun lock because of the hearty dose of unreleased gems that paired with their visuals.
Some attendees I spoke to mentioned that their favorite parts of the night had come from the previous sets, but for me, it was Tale Of Us’. It felt like the duo had bucked all expectations and leaned heavily into telling a story through these new tunes, which I appreciate from artists in this era seemingly filled with cookie-cutter sets. A final treat at the end, Eric Prydz’s “Proper Education,” left me yearning for more and wondering what would’ve happened if they had been able to play just a little bit longer.
Afterlife Los Angeles satiated my craving for a quality melodic techno experience.
One thing that stuck with me during and after the experience was that I felt like Afterlife Los Angeles was a trance show at its core. Everything about it, from the melodic nature of the tracks with impressive builds and breakdowns to the stunning visuals that added to the futuristic feel, screamed trance to me. That said, the degree of separation between melodic techno and trance is virtually non-existent. With the prevalence of brands like Afterlife and the launch of genres like deep, hypnotic trance, I hope the seemingly sidelined genre might see some life breathed into it from techno lovers who haven’t yet explored that realm of electronic music.
While I wish the venue had offered more for attendees and that the show went deeper into the night, practically everything about Afterlife Los Angeles was perfect. The lineup was solid, the sound, lighting, and visuals were fantastic, and the company I was with enhanced the experience further. This show will be one that I remember for years to come, and I hope they return to Southern California sooner rather than later.