Beyond Wonderland SoCal may have been a cold and rainy weather endeavor, but the beats and community warmed our hearts to the core.
Since its debut in 2010, Beyond Wonderland has been filled with plenty of unique production elements and stacked lineups that keep headliners dancing all night long. While the festival has taken place everywhere from San Francisco to Monterrey in Mexico, the original edition has always been my favorite. This year, Beyond Wonderland SoCal transformed the NOS Events Center into a destination that was intent on taking you out of this world and into one of fantasy.
Having missed last year’s edition of Beyond Wonderland, I was ready for a return to one of my favorite events hosted by Insomniac. Upon entering the festival grounds the first thing in sight was the lake, which featured a floating art display that shot off fire intermittently. Further exploration on Friday allowed for the full scope of Beyond SoCal to take shape. Four stages, two art cars, plenty of performers, and headliners alike all packed the venue nicely.
I’ve got to give it to Insomniac for the production elements used at their stages and throughout the festival.
Everything from the art pieces spread out to the lights and lasers was fantastic at Beyond Wonderland. The most impressive stage was the Queen’s Domain, aka the main stage, which featured intricate designs. On top of that, the DJ decks were actually much closer to the crowd than in the past providing a more intimate atmosphere.
Something I also appreciated was that I never felt that the venue was too packed. There were definitely lots of people there, more so on Saturday than Friday due to the weather, but unlike other experiences at NOS Events Center, the flow was perfect. I could easily navigate the festival quickly, and never once waited in line to get into a stage.
The Insomniac VIP Team also did an absolutely fantastic job in providing a next-level experience for those looking to enhance their time at Beyond SoCal.
Aside from the express entry, VIPs were able to experience their favorite artists’ sets up close and personal with viewing areas at three of the four stages, two of which featured additional bars. The VIP area at the Queen’s Domain was definitely the premier place to be, as it had a covered tent to hide under during the rain as well as a ton of different activities to take part in. Complimentary hookahs, cakes, and tea were all bonuses to the kandi making station, beauty bar, and seating areas to mix and mingle with other headliners.
But enough about the venue and production. Let’s talk about the music.
When the lineup dropped for Beyond Wonderland SoCal this year it was met with very mixed reviews. Many were unhappy to see that there was no Dreamstate presence. Others were clearly hoping for some harder styles with the Basscon family, but honestly, I was very stoked about the artists that were booked.
Instead of just booking the biggest names possible, which they still did with artists like Tiesto and Oliver Heldens on the lineup, Insomniac also brought some rising talent and curated acts to the table. The next wave of artists primed to take over electronic music like Yultron, Sinden, Born Dirty, and Dateless all played their hearts out and moved crowds at Beyond SoCal, proving the future is bright.
Space Yacht also took over the Wide Awake Art Car during the event, bringing with them two days full of acts like Nitti Gritti, i_o, and more who are about to be making some serious waves in the scene.
On Friday my ears were dominated by the artists taking the stage at the Caterpillar’s Garden, which was house music heaven.
Walker & Royce, FISHER, and Chris Lake all slaughtered their sets and really left a lasting impression on me as I was surrounded by others who were dancing and shuffling away to their sick beats. Leaving Chris Lake was difficult, but my first-ever chance to catch i_o was one that I couldn’t miss, even if it was raining the entire time. If you haven’t had the chance to catch him spin and love techno, I suggest you do it as soon as possible.
Needing some bass and new scenery, we caught some of Kayzo’s set which was full of some serious energy before closing our night with Claptone. I always love how dedicated his diehard fans are, and I always seem to run into the same house heads who love to get down at his sets.
Saturday was full of exploration of new sounds and fresh artists at other stages during Beyond SoCal.
Heading to the venue right at the opening of the festival that day, I was able to catch some Cazztek and NuKid before heading over to Born Dirty to get down to his sounds. Electric Mantis was also another fresh artist I had never caught before, and from what I caught of his set I definitely know that next time he’s on a lineup I’ll be catching him in full.
I headed back to the Caterpillar’s Garden for the epic duo Solardo, which led into one of my favorite sets of the weekend from Will Clarke. Not only did Will absolutely slay the crowd with his sick beats, but he also was dancing around and teasing the crowd throughout his entire set.
Opting to close my night with some uplifting vibes, I decided to catch some of Alesso’s set to see what he was bringing to the table. His signature style was present and he played some new material while interlacing some of his familiar work that had the crowd really going. I felt a sense of completion with the end of his set, almost as if it was the perfect way to close out the weekend.
Overall, Insomniac knocked it out of the park with this year’s edition of Beyond SoCal.
This year’s edition of the festival was truly one of the most issue-free events that I’ve attended recently. From the ease of entering and exiting the venue to the lineup that really had me dancing the entire time, I don’t think there was anything outside of the weather that was problematic.
I also can’t wait to see more curated lineups of this style going forward at future editions of this event and others hosted by Insomniac. The crowd flow was perfect, the music was on point, and the production was epic as well. Beyond SoCal was an all-around great time. Hopefully, I’ll see you there next year!