By Will Compton
Over spring break on a nice warm Tuesday, my best friend Joseph Brooke and I decided to take a last-minute trip to Beyond Wonderland, an EDM music festival in San Bernardino. Beyond, which I had been hearing about for some time now, took place on Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25. With nothing else better to do, Joe and I packed our bags and took the seven-hour road trip down to SoCal to experience one of the most interesting and energetic weekends of our lives. Beyond Wonderland blew us away, from its amazing attractions and performers to its well-created stages. Through the 48 hours we spent there, we came back with a whole new mindset about music festivals. This is our official review of Beyond Wonderland: the festival that will make you fall in love with electronic music.
First, let’s talk about what Beyond Wonderland is. Beyond is a music festival put on by Insomniac Events, the biggest EDM festival coordination corporation in the world. Usually held in SoCal every year, Beyond Wonderland is widely-known for its use of intrinsic and exotic stages, such as the Upside Down House, Queen’s Domain, BassHouse and its variety of performers and acrobats located all around the festival grounds. It is also celebrated for its annually changing themes. This year’s was “Under the Sea,” where performers, designs and light shows were curated around the idea of the ocean. Beyond is also well-known for its variety of showcasing the extremely popular, the old legends and new on-the-spot-producers. This year’s lineup featured artists such as Audien, Alison Wonderland, Illenium, Hardwell, NGHTMRE, Snails, Yellow Claw, Bro Safari and Diplo.
Now, Beyond is considered one of Insomniac’s “space filler” festivals, which means it fills in the dead space between festival dates so EDM lovers always have the next rave to look forward to. That way they’re not going months at a time without having a concert to go to. Now that you have an idea of SoCal’s most entertaining music festival, let’s dive into our Beyond Wonderland 2017 full review.
Getting To The Grounds & Security:
Beyond was held at the National Orange Show Events Center, a giant outside space of concrete used for multiple events held all year throughout California. It’s placed right in the center of San Bernardino, but getting there is a bitch and a half. If you didn’t pay for VIP parking, you’re going to walk about a solid half mile or so if you get lucky. Cops have streets blocked and fenced off so that California traffic you love just got amped up. The festival went from 5 p.m.– to 2 a.m., so I recommend getting there a little early if you want to be there the full time. If not, you’re going to be asking for a ride, no question. Yet, a tip for all you festival travelers: Uber is independently owned, so they set their own prices. Taxis are owned by the government, so they have a set wage per quarter mile, and it cannot change. So a $60 Uber ride is a $20 Taxi ride. Remember that for the next time you need a ride, it could save you a fortune.
As you walk into the festival, you hit a giant tent for will call and ticket pick up on your left. There are about 8-10 windows open, and the process flew by. They were very quick and professional with their ticket handling, and I heard very few complaints. Walk past the ticketing booth to another side of a fence and there are the entry gates to the festival. There, multiple lines of bag check and ticket scanning were occurring. Security was very either/or relating to their politeness. You could have a nice lady, letting you bring in your chapstick and Vicks into the festival, but the next line over, someone was having their camelback dumped out and thrown away right in front of them for having broken seals on containers. You never really knew what you were going to get, but they did take their job seriously. Unless you were media or worked for the festival, you received hard copy tickets, not the wristbands that are currently in right now. Security also lined all the corners and entrances of the festival, with over 200 guards on post. So long story short, sneaking people in was borderline impossible.
Inside the Festival
“Interesting” is the best way to describe the layout and creation of Beyond Wonderland. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by performers in exotic costumes,giving you a welcome to their exotic world. They walked all around the festival and never got out of character. From asking to take photo to following them to play games, they were one of the highlights of this festival. On your right was the infinity pond, where a giant grand water fountain spewed with color changing seahorses surrounding it. Colored trees lined the pond, with grass below for people to relax. The trees were decorated with color changing orbs and spikes, decorated to look almost like something from Candy Land. Beautiful statues were all around the festival as well, including a mechanical squid that operated all on its own solely through the sun. Shops and huts were placed strategically, available to give out beer, water, fresh fruit, greasy food, rave gear and even places to meditate and express emotions. If you wanted a little taste of home, you could even stop by the food truck corner, where local food trucks were giving out delicious food of all types. All around the grounds there was easy-to-access bathrooms, so waiting in line was never a problem. The layout was beautiful and well-done. The only flaw was a very crucial one: water stations. With only one area designated for stations, about 20 pump stations lined up next to each other dispensed out clean water, lines built up dramatically after each performance. Getting water took a little while, but vendors sold it by the bottle for those who hate to wait. All the grounds workers for Insomniac were very professional, sweet, and knowledgeable about everything in the festival. If you had questions, they weren’t hard to find and usually always had answers for Joseph and me.
Line Up & Stage Quality
I was actually very impressed with Beyond Wonderland’s lineup. They were able to appeal to the new lovers of EDM as well as the old. Old legends like Diplo, Hardwell, Bro Safari and Yellow Claw made their performances heard loud and clear, while new hot artists, like Illenium, NGHTMRE, Alison Wonderland and Rezz took over. Beyond had five different stages set up all throughout the festival, all located under massive tents to protect from possible weather. The first was the Queen’s Domain, set up to be the main stage. There, giant light shows and effects were the themes and it truly carried the most power during the festival. Right behind was the Outer Realm, which was the home of the bass heads. With borderline-blinding light shows, power acts like Snails, Trollphase & Phiso performed, so there was never a quiet moment. Next up was the Cheshire Cove. Located next to the Infinity Pond, this stage was set up like a captain’s ship, with house music spinning throughout the entire festival. This stage was amazingly designed, and perfect for people who wanted to vibe at a low-key pace during the festival. Tucked in the back of the festival was The Aquarium. This stage was all about the show, the acts and set up. With extremely vibey performers such as Kry Wolf and Rezz, the pace always stayed chill and low in the Aquarium, and always was a great place to socialize and listen to great music. If you enjoy Flume, you would’ve been there. Finally, across from the aquarium was the Upside Down House. Sponsored consistently at Insomniac Events by Red Bull, this stage is literally how it sounds. A house turned upside down with three windows open for possible slots for DJ’s to perform. Exciting performers such as Aazar and Two Fresh & Redlight always keep upside down house moving and grooving with its trap or progressive house sounds. Upside Down House has always been a popular stage at Insomniac; It was very cool to see it still thriving.
Beyond Wonderland is one of the best music festivals I have yet to attend. Not because of the performances or the lack of money I had spent (By the way, it is a very cheap music festival to do with friends, I highly recommend for a fun trip), it was the true atmosphere of festivals you felt there. There was no negativity around you; everyone was there for the same purpose and that was to enjoy their time away. Everyone you met had a different smile and a different story, but all were there for the same purpose. You have to be a person who enjoys EDM and music festivals to truly enjoy Beyond Wonderland. But, if you do, it is truly one of the happiest and best 48 hours you will ever have. I highly recommend you make Beyond Wonderland a consideration next Spring Break, it is absolutely worth it.