Insomniac Events (best known for producing the Electric Daisy Carnival), has been one of the premier EDM event/experience creators since its inception. The 4th annual Alice in Wonderland themed event, Beyond Wonderland, was held a new location at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, CA. The larger venue allowed for higher attendance, as well as a lot more open space to host art installations and provide attendees space to relax in between their dancing sessions.
This year’s lineup hosted 40+ DJs and producers from around the globe on 5 stages, including headliners Steve Angello, David Guetta, and Afrojack. However, in general, I was much more interested in the smaller stages featuring “lesser known acts” but big in their own particular scenes. Of course, as it is with most festivals, artists playing at the same time or at stages the complete opposite end of the venue resulted in seeing portions of a lot of acts. A required necessity to make sure I didn’t miss anybody that I had been waiting years to see or didn’t know when I could see next.
One act I was glad to see on the main stage (Queens Domain) was Umek, a techno/tech house artist from Slovenia that I have been following and wanting to hear spin. His up-tempo set was all about the beat, a vocal-less and mechanical sound that entranced and drove people to dance. In a scene that’s saturated with electro and progressive house, I hope his presence introduced people to a new sound to follow. I finally had a chance to see Dutch Trance DJ, Dash Berlin, on the Madhatter’s Castle stage. His song selection was on point (it was hard to leave his set early), one euphoric tune after the other including very popular originals “Waiting” and “Man On The Run.” Welsh DJ, High Contrast has been on my list for a while and I caught part of his drum & bass/liquid funk set on the Chess Village stage. I love his ability to fuse soulful melodies and ambiance into the driving, upbeat sounds of dnb for a sound I can enjoy anywhere. He dropped two of my favorite originals “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “If We Ever,” as well as his great remix of Adele’s “Hometown Hero.”
My favorite stage by far was Cheshire Woods, hosting deep house/tech house acts like Damian Lazarus, Maya Jane Coles, Maceo Plex and Art Department. This stage was relatively intimate. It had the perfect amount of people, there was room to dance, the sound system sounded great and it hosted genres that rarely come through my domain of San Diego. The sound system oozed deep techy beats, minimal rhythms, and dark, soulful grooves all at a steady mid-tempo pace that could be comfortably danced to for long periods of time. Had this not been a festival, I could have easily stayed here the whole night. None, however, did it better than Maya Jane Coles who subsequently was my favorite act of the night and rightly deserved all the hype and credit she has received in the last couple of years (including Rolling Stone’s November 2012 issue placing Maya Jane Coles at the fourteenth rank of its world’s 25 most influential DJs list). The set she commanded had such a warehouse type of vibe, underground in nature but captivating anyone who happened to check out the tent. I had more than a few random people ask who she was and even my friends, who generally prefer other styles, agreed her set stood out for them. Check out her breakthrough track below:
Insomniac Events has proved that they are still on top of their game (it had been a couple of years since I last attended one of their events) and it has revitalized my interest in knowing that they can provide diverse, quality acts and can organize an event with minimal problems and top notch production. I look forward to checking out their event Nocturnal again later this year!
– Submitted by Jesse Nathason, Music Design