It’s strange to think that only a short while ago I traveled through blizzards in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to start spring break right in the west coast sunshine state. On March 17 and 18, Insomniac held their annual music festival, Beyond Wonderland, at National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino, California. Not even knowing the lineup yet back in January, my friends and I bought our passes to this EDM oasis. We knew this expedition was a trip worth taking and of course Pasquale Rotella and the entire Insomniac team did not disappoint.
Being my first time at the NOS Center let alone Beyond Wonderland, I didn’t know what to expect visual-and-decoration wise. As I started to walk into the venue, it seemed like we were transported into another realm. In the middle stood a beautiful lily pond that captured the eye right away. After the pond, your attention went straight to overhead lights which cascaded across from each light pole. As you walked through the enthusiastic crowd, dozens of Insomniac employees greeted you dressed as elaborate Alice and Wonderland characters to gigantic flowers and gorgeous butterflies.
Besides the amazing DJs, the stage design blew me away. The Mad Hatter’s Castle was personally my favorite stage. Just describing the stage in words does not do it justice. I’ve been to various Insomniac shows and events including EDC Las Vegas, but this layout was one of the easiest to map and most visually appealing. The laser and light shows never skipped a beat. Usually I don’t buy food at music festivals because I’m either having too much fun dancing or it’s overpriced. But this time my friend bought Moondusk Fries. They were incredible. Not only did they have a tasteful seasoning but the sauce they gave you was delicious. If you ever go to an Insomniac event and see them on the menu, I’d highly recommend trying!
Of course, as with all festivals, there is always going to be some type of drama or inconvenience. Thankfully, this time there were only two major problems: people pushing without being courteous and the rain. In a perfect world, everyone will get along with one another at an event, but we obviously don’t all live in unison. My friends and I would be dancing, then a herd of festival goers would come stumbling through us. I know people are just trying to have a good time so usually this wouldn’t bother me. However, since it was cold to begin with, it’s hard to justify their actions. It is two simple words that people that are drinking tend to forget. In addition to rowdy young adults, the rain was off-putting. It didn’t start until around 9 p.m. on Friday night and lasted until around 3 a.m. the next morning. Luckily, it wasn’t raining too hard but if you’re trying to turn up, it is definitely a bummer. The stages were well covered and protected. Each stage wasn’t that far away from the others, so the migration to another set wasn’t troubling until the walk back to the car.
Now onto the most interesting part of any EDM festival: the sets. Everyone has their personal preference of EDM genre, mine being trap, but like a lot of attendees agree, other genres are amazing to watch as well. On Friday, Saymyname, Midnight Tyrannosaurus and Black Tiger Sex Machine had the crowd going wild throughout their entire sets. Oliver Heldens had ravers shuffling to some joyful drops at The Queen’s Domain stage. But getting to my absolutely favorite of the night and the weekend, Kill the Noise. In my opinion he dominated the Mad Hatter’s Tent. I remember seeing him at Reno’s Cargo Concert Hall a few years ago but since he was at a much larger venue he decided to leave everything out on the table.The lasers went perfectly with each unexpected drop. The whole set got the crowd hyped up for Kayzo who closed on Friday night. Even though Kayzo was in Reno three weeks ago, his set was completely revamped with crazy upbeat trap/dubstep drops.
The second day was even better than the first. Luckily this day it didn’t rain which kept our spirits up. Yultron and Valentino Khan had some insane bass house drops that made you want to jump. Khan consistently changes up his drops keeping it unpredictable. On the other hand, Jayceeoh had killer trap drops. He had to be one of my favorites of the entire festival as well. It was interesting the way they conducted people into the area Jayceeoh was playing called Cheshire Woods. The stage was in a dome that you had to walk “Disneyland style” through a roped path. I thought that was an interesting and a clever way to guide the crowd. Getting toward the final performances on Saturday night, DJ Mustard, who played at the Mad Hatter’s stage, incorporated popular rap songs throughout along with face-melting drops. And last but not least, Flosstradamus closed right after DJ Mustard. Of course when Floss played the famous heart-racing songs Mosh Pit and Prison Riot, what seemed like dozens of mosh pits appeared. Even if you’re the type to watch the mosh pit from a distance, it was a sight to see.
If you ever wish to visit a music festival that has amazing visuals, interactive characters, delicious food and back-breaking sets, this festival is the answer. From the creative music to the great people, Beyond Wonderland was an experience I will never forget.