Event Recap: Nocturnal Wonderland—We Came Ready To Party And Everyone Was On Board With That Plan



Insomniac Events has secured themselves at the top of the pedestal for throwing large scale festivals and events. This past weekend Insomniac Events hosted one of their most popular SoCal festivals, Nocturnal Wonderland located at the NOS Events Center in San Bernadino.

The event was to take place over two nights, Friday and Saturday. The lineup was filled with some of the biggest DJs including Alesso, Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, Benny Benassi, 12th Planet and many many more. The first night was headlined by Above & Beyond, Axwell and Dirtyphonics. The combination of Axwell and Above & Beyond caused high anxiety for attendees for they didn't know who to see first. Above & Beyond spun a two-hour set that gave all trance fans their dose of melodic tunes and left them feeling high on life. Axwell, who was located at the tent right next to A&B, also dropped his melodic electro house tunes, leaving everyone at the end of the night wanting more.


I spent more time on the Saturday of Nocturnal which allowed me to see about every act. A wide range of performers took the stage for day 2. Joachim Garraud blew minds in the warehouse stage called "Queen's Grounds." The french DJ was really impressive, mixing tracks old and new, originals and fan favorites. The energy was contagious and spread from the DJ booth to the back of the dancefloor. Garraud really imp"awed"ressed his large crowd when he pulled out his electric keyboard guitar and plugged in, dropping keyboard guitar riff solos left and right.


The next act to see was John Dahlback on the mainstage also known as Labyrinth. The DJ came ready to party and everyone in attendance was on board with that plan. His original track "Embrace Me" featuring Dirty South, put hands in the air as the crowd lipped they lyrics to the powerful track. And at the drop, no one was standing, just jumping. Dahlback also teased the crowd with Alesso and Dirty South's new track "City of Dreams" by switching the drops. Either way it was a great set filled with a lot of energy and passion.


After Dahlback came one of the acts I was looking to forward to seeing most, R3hab. Coming off a huge year, the DJ has been everywhere and producing new music at the same time. If you are not quite familiar with his style of production, he likes to take big Top 40 songs and make them into official EDM culture bangers. R3hab dropped almost everyone of his original remixes including "Bounce," "Without You," "I Can Only Imagine" and "The One That Got Away." R3hab brought in nightfall and left the crowd ready to go for several more hours.


Following R3hab's performance I spent the next set times between several acts. Catching the end of one my favorite dubstep producers, Crizzly who was followed by Planet of the Drums. During that hour I was also able to catch Showtek and the closing portion of Arty's set. However, the hype that was in the air for the headlining acts got a hold of me and took away from those artists sets.

The Labyrinth stage was to host 3 incredible producers back-to-back-to-back including Benny Benassi, Pretty Lights, and Sebastian Ingrosso.  Benassi was up first, he opened his set up slow and kept the mood mellow. He eventually began to drop the bangers including "Cinema" and "Satisfaction" but there was something not right. The sound seemed like it was cut in half, you could hear the crowd talking more than you could hear the music. I assumed a speaker was blown or maybe Benny was playing around, either way there was no change in the volume.

Later I found out that, Insomniac's Nocturnal Wonderland received over 200 noise complaints last year with the use of the NOS center. This year that number was reduced to about 40 noise complaint. After reading that report I really began to scratch my head, maybe the volume was to be lowered at the outside tents for the public's well being... We may never know.


Confused by the sound situation, I decided it would be best to go up front for one of my favorite producers, Pretty Lights. Majority of Pretty Lights' sets are composed with his original tracks, his Nocturnal set included all his top tracks, "Finally Moving," "All Of The Lights," "I Know The Truth," "Hot Like Sauce" and "Total Fascination."  The set was on point and gave everyone what they were looking for. The crowd began to disperse near the end and the traffic was most likely heading to ATB followed by the one and only Dash Berlin.

However, I didn't catch either of those acts. I'm not too huge on trance. Instead I caught the ending portion of the LA native, 12th Planet's set. Surrounded with a posse on stage, 12th Planet screamed to crowd just building hype and energy. He set up perfectly for SubFocus, who was on stage DJing with 12th Planet for a little at the end and into his own set. Sub dropped banger after banger before I left to see 1/3 of the Swedish House Mafia.


Sebastian Ingrosso was to headling the Labyrinth and bring an end to Nocturnal Wonderland. However about 30 minutes into his set, the volume thing began to bother me again. I would hear people talking on the other side of the dancefloor, annoyed as shit, I decided to listen in. Right before Ingroso dropped Axwell's "In My Mind" track I overheard some fans, who were dressed head to toe in neon, talking about an act I didn't know much about called, Royksopp. I heard them say "Let's go check them out, last time I saw them I was on ***D and it was nuts!" All I needed to hear to direct me that way.

I followed a sea of people leaving the main stage and heading towards the Queen's Room where Royksopp was. As soon as I got in, it looked like it was a meeting for zombies as everyone in attendance was just moving back and forth in unison. On stage was a man dressed in a black jacket that was lighting up to beats and the other was in a white net looking thing. Seriously, something from a movie. Their set up was nothing I have seen before at an Insomniac event, mixers, keyboards, synths, and a bunch of other equipment I couldn't identify. The music was so new to me and very unique, it was like a hard electro trance. Simply incredible. At one point of the performance, one of the members was wearing a Daft Punk helmet. Before I knew it, it was 2:00 am and my night was ending.


I considered attending Drai's for Pete Tong's after party but my feet were screaming and my legs were danced out. Overall, Insomniac met the expectations that I set. The volume situation was a blessing in disguise as I was able to check out an act I most likely wouldn't see. My hat goes off to all the staff, performers, Pasquale and his team, and everyone who attended the event safely. A mutual respect between fans and staff are the only thing keeping these events alive, don't lose it now.

To see more "Rukes" photography go here.


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