Insomniac pulled out all the stops for this year’s edition of Escape Halloween with a solid lineup, spooky experiences, and more.
It wouldn’t be Halloween in the scene without some spooktacular celebrations taking place around the country. Each year has seen promoters near and far deliver unique events for dance music lovers to attend, but few have done it quite like Insomniac has over the past decade. One of their flagship festivals, Escape Halloween, has transformed into a behemoth, gaining notoriety with jam-packed lineups, immersive experiences, and plenty more.
This year’s edition of Escape Halloween welcomed thousands of ravers to the NOS Events Center, each craving their next dose of Halloween wickedness from Insomniac. The weekend went off without a hitch. The weather was a bit chilly, and the crowd was lighter than in past years, but the festival delivered on all accounts to provide a memorable experience for all who descended into the madness.
The entry process was as smooth as melted caramel, the festival grounds were filled to the brim with things to do and see, and the sets from artists like Kaskade, Green Velvet, Wilkinson, Above & Beyond, SVDDEN DEATH, and others were perfect for the festivities. With the latest edition of Escape Halloween in the books, let’s take a trip back down memory lane to explore why this year’s edition stood tall.
Five Reasons Why Escape Halloween 2023 Was Wicked Good
The crowd was lighter than past editions and seemed to bring a more positive vibe with them.
I’ll be the first to admit that Escape Halloween has become quite the festival giant over the past decade. As it’s seemingly the only major Halloween festival left standing in Southern California, thousands of ravers have flocked to the NOS Events Center to get their fix and dance the night away. This has brought some issues with crowd flow and over-packed stages during past editions. This year was much lighter overall, however.
Except for a handful of moments, we didn’t experience any issues getting into the festival, going from stage to stage, or really anywhere else. No areas ever seemed packed to the point that we couldn’t get a decent spot, and the lines into Crazy Town or Wicked Woods were short or non-existent. This was a breath of fresh air after attending Escape in the past, and it was made even more sweeter by the Headliners (as Insomniac affectionately refers to their fans) who were there. It felt like so many more people came to show off their cool costumes and have fun instead of bring the energy down. While your mileage may have varied, we hope to see this trend of better vibes continue.
Above & Beyond brought some much-needed Group Therapy into the mix.
You can’t talk about the good vibes found at Escape Halloween this year without mentioning the appearance from Above & Beyond, who hadn’t played the festival since 2015. They dominated the decks at The Grimm stage during the first night. Perhaps it was a little bit of Group Therapy that helped the rest of the weekend feel so great.
Those who made their way to the set were treated to a number of their hit tracks, like “Sun & Moon” and “Thing Called Love,” while uplifting messages graced the screens that hung from the ceilings. A nice treat during “Waltz” was visuals from The Shining being played, and closing with “Happiness Amplified” warmed everyone’s soul as the night grew colder.
The Wicked Woods stage was a fantastic new addition to the festival’s grounds.
I was a bit wary of Insomniac adding another stage into the mix for this year’s edition of Escape due to the festival’s past issues with crowding, but those worries washed away pretty quickly on the first day. Similar to Beyond Wonderland just half a year ago, Wicked Woods was a nice sanctuary for those who wanted to get lost in some beats and get out of the cold. It had easy entrances and exits on all sides.
Lost In Dreams controlled the stage on the first day, bringing some unique sets from artists like ARMNHMR, JVNA, Kaivon, and k?d. It was the second day that really drew me in, though. Bassrush brought a drum and bass lineup that dreams were made of with a 20 Years of Blackout set from Black Sun Empire and The Upbeats, a Virus 25th Anniversary set from Ed Rush & Optical, and a DnB set from Nitepunk as the cherry on top. Other standouts at the Wicked Woods included Calyx, Skellytn, and Culture Shock, all of whom brought the heat.
Nia Archives threw down some solid drum and bass and jungle grooves.
One of the artists on the lineup who I was most excited to catch was Nia Archives, who has been booming up the ranks of the scene with her impressive performances and stunning releases. She took the stage at Feeding Grounds far earlier than I would’ve liked, but those who had made their way to her set were treated to something truly special.
Not only did she throw down some wicked tunes and expose SoCal ravers to some much-needed jungle, but she also kept everyone hyped up by dancing around and singing live to make the experience even more memorable. Hopefully, Nia Archives will return for another performance at an Insomniac festival in the future. Next time around, she needs a higher slot on the set times.
Crazy Town and the Psycho Circus offered so much more for everyone to explore.
Festivals can be a high-octane experience, especially if you’re someone who loves to jump from set to set and try to catch everything you can. That said, one thing that many festivals fail to do is provide places for attendees to explore and chill with their friends for a bit. Escape Halloween does not suffer from this lack of oversight, and it offered plenty to do this year.
Beyond the Ferris Wheel and grassy area by the lake, Crazy Town and the Psycho Circus were once again decked out and full of surprises for everyone to explore. You could catch various performers at the Fire Kethedral or inside the Psycho Circus, groove out to the sounds found at Danse Macabre (the silent disco), or even score a bag of Brainiez, the official sponsor of Apocalypse Zombieland. The attention to detail in these areas elevated the immersive nature of Escape Halloween, and I can’t wait to see what they bring to next year’s edition.