From the moment you stepped on the grounds of the NOS Event Center, Beyond Wonderland wasted no time with delivering infectious energy. This chapter of Insomniac’s San Bernardino based “Wonderland” series was thematically focused on water, a similarity to how smooth and efficient the festival was. It’s clear to see that over the years Insomniac has solidified itself as a master of artistic and aesthetic festival design, and their attention to detail is what allows the performances, as well as the festival as a whole, to shine brightly.
Upon going into the festival, Beyond immediately presented a beautifully decorated lake area, from which you could walk around or across a bridge to end up near the “Outer Realm” stage. As grimy bass music spewed out of this stage, you could also walk over to the glorious “Queen’s Domain” main stage, or farther to the right to arrive at the house driven “Aquarium” or the trance based “Cheshire Cove.” The signature “Upside Down House” also made its return this year along with a boat stage entitled the “Beyond Wench”, playing grooves from a great selection of DJs as well as members of the Insomniac record label.
A thing that keeps me always intrigued with what Insomniac does is their consistency in making you feel like a part of a big playground. Other than the DJs, the true performers are the ones walking around in costume, continuing to remind you that you are a part of a magnificent fantasy world. There were dancers and performers at every corner of the festival, whether you were watching them on the main stage or any of the side stages. One performer with a mask decided to walk around with us and scare a friend of mine, totally going into character.
What is most interesting about the evolution of these festivals is the convergence of many genres and high energy sets. As the landscape of EDM has changed, so has the lineups that Insomniac has brought to these festivals. Each stage packed a set of surprises in the form of performances that made what could have been a very repetitive lineup a lot more interesting.
On Friday, we were graced to hear some powerful sets. The king of “jungle terror” himself, Wiwek gave an energetic set during the festival’s early hours, which when coupled with the fun, quirky visuals and sound of Martin Solveig proved to be a great start for the festival. Rezz, who we have been following now for quite some time, played at the Aquarium, and needless to say brought the house down.
As for Saturday, this may have been a contender for one of the most bass heavy days of an Insomniac festival ever. Party Favor started out the night with a genre sweeping set, and lived up to his name as a true party starter, even bringing out Alison Wonderland at one point of his set. Standout set of the night went to Herobust, who amidst many dubstep sets still was able to provide his unique style with incredibly signature drops. An honorable mention goes to Netsky for a tastefully energetic drum and bass set, as well as to Chris Lake, who had an equally upbeat house set, especially coming off of his most recent OWSLA single, “I Want You.”
Even with the multitude of EDM events going on in Miami this past week , it’s still so impressive that Insomniac is able to pack their tents with loyal fans to their brand and the music they provide, bringing something compelling on the other end of the coast. They have certainly impressed me and at this rate will continue to impress far and beyond this festival.
by Austin Foley