Insomniac’s brand-new bass festival, Apocalypse Zombieland, brought two nights of jaw-dropping music for junglists and bassheads alike.
With the lull of festival season upon us, it was time for a refresher in the scene: a festival that brought all the hot and heavy bass, dubstep, and drum and bass to Southern California. Thus, Insomniac announced the much-anticipated Apocalypse Zombieland. The lineup brought the Bassrush community together at the Queen Mary Waterfront in Long Beach on November 24-25, perfect for a post-Thanksgiving release. After the weekend, many wondered if this would be one of the new staples for Southern California festival goers.
Although Insomniac is regarded as one of the world’s top festival production companies, many still hesitated about the logistics of holding the event at a relatively new venue. Not to mention that it was a first-time festival taking place outdoors in late fall. The EDM Identity Team went out to the fest. We’ve got you covered on what went down this weekend and if the ultimate bass invasion is here to stay.
Traveling to the venue was a breeze for those who attended Dreamstate the weekend before. For first-timers, it came to be a bit of a challenge.
Located on the edge of Long Beach, the venue of the Queen Mary Waterfront is a bit of a mission to locate. With the hustle of evening traffic and navigating the busy streets, it was ideal to leave earlier than expected to arrive in time for desired sets — especially for those traveling outside of LBC.
The venue itself does not have any parking whatsoever, so everyone needed to park in a designated parking lot by the shuttle stop. Even rideshare drivers often got confused about the proper place to drop attendees off, as they weren’t allowed to do so directly in front of the pier. Parking at these lots also did fill up fast. It was upsetting to those who paid in advance only to arrive to be turned away to find another location to park — a major bummer.
Despite the bit of stress with parking (usually a given for any SoCal event), shuttle lines moved smoothly and efficiently. And while late arrivals were met with intimidatingly long lines, there was a constant flow of pickup and drop-off directly outside the venue. Lines to get in were the quickest I’ve ever experienced at an Insomniac event, and basically, no time was wasted for VIP/GA+ lines.
Leaving the venue was quite a learning experience in itself as well. On the first day, my group opted to depart a little earlier through the last set of the night to beat the shuttle lines back (which still ended up being around a 30-minute wait). On the second night, my group stayed a little later, and by the time we got to the shuttle lines, they were wrapped around some of the stages.
We opted to return to the lot on foot. It was about a mile walk — but we had gorgeous views of the pier! I wouldn’t suggest it for my platform girlies, but it was doable compared to how much walking I’ve done at previous festivals. Other brave souls could rent scooters and bikes, if available, to take back to the hotels and lots.
The setup of Apocalypse Zombieland was smooth and captivating, with mind-blowing art installations and professional zombie actors.
The setup of Apocalypse Zombieland was completely unique to a lot of other festivals I’ve attended. While the layout was set down a narrow walkway with a bridge connecting the two sides of the festival, navigating around each stage was pretty smooth once you figured out where you were on the actual map.
The art installations were massive and on the nose, completely decked out with a graffitied big rig, a zombie biker gang, and shipping container murals with monstrous pyrotechnics. Each stage was spread out enough to prevent sound bleed (a major plus in my book) but wasn’t far enough away that I felt like I’d miss a set just by walking. The huge VIP areas had exclusive amenities like their own bars, bathrooms with A/C, and exclusive viewing areas, including on the ship itself!
One thing I always appreciate about Insomniac’s events is their attention to detail in curating immersive environments and Apocalypse Zombieland was just that.
Not only did the zombie actors that roamed around the festival wear incredibly realistic makeup, but they stayed in character and were actually super funny. We even caught them head-banging to a set at the Zombieland stage! The actors were also super professional, avoiding scaring anybody too badly and giving attendees space, and they were also super down to be included in any videos. Sometimes, it was hard to tell who was a zombie and who was an attendee by the night’s end because everyone was walking like one from dancing so hard!
The food selections were awesome, with tons of choices, including stir fry, tacos, pizza, sushi, and lots of vegan options. VIP had their own special roster of food selections as well. As expected at every festival, however, the drinks menu had ungodly prices. The cheapest drink was around $15, with special drinks in a brain-shaped mug reaching upward to $40. The special cocktails themed around the event were nonetheless delicious and well made, definitely worth the price!
The one negative aspect of this venue is that the festival was dark. Although the stage visuals and the vendor booths provided a lot of the lights, it was often hard to find my friends if we were separated — not only due to the minimal cell service, but because the venue itself is outdoors and on the water. The grounds were more dimly lit than those of other festivals, especially in the tunnel walkways. I would love to see more lit-up spaces near the bathroom areas and outskirt walkways for better navigation!
For any bass music enthusiast, this proved to be a very impressive lineup — which could lead to frustrating schedule conflicts.
The roster included some of the most prominent names in the game, including sets from Zeds Dead (very fitting for the theme), Zomboy (even more fitting), Barely Alive, Yellow Claw, and Adventure Club featuring Aviella. The crowds during these performances were some of the highest-energy audiences I’ve experienced, and the space devoted to each stage helped as most people had tons of room to dance as hard as they wanted.
Personally, having such a stacked lineup can be slightly frustrating when set conflicts occur more than often. I had found myself running from stage to stage to catch a glimpse of everyone I wanted to see, including during sets by Andy C and Of The Trees, Peekaboo and Visages, and the most difficult, Caspa and Alix Perez. In the end, it really depended on the vibe I was feeling and what sets I was more drawn to at the moment. The best rule of thumb when dealing with set conflicts is to live in the moment!
For those addicted to drum and bass, the Containment Zone brought all the heaters to fill the need.
As a drum and bass enthusiast, I was wildly impressed by the roster delivered by the Apocalypse lineup. The Containment Zone stage was not only stacked with a booming sound system, but the set transitions were effortless and right on time. Right by the festival’s entrance, I was introduced to the familiar BPM my heart has come to love. I got down to some impressive sets from artists like Bou, Hedex, Alix Perez, and Kanine, the latter being my personal favorite. From liquid to neurofunk, this stage honored the driving forces of the genre at the moment.
One of the smaller but cooler-looking stages, The Lab, was home to many of the pioneers in the bass music and deep dubstep community, as well as select drum and bass acts. Friday delivered acts like Chee, Sweettooth, and G-Rex, with Saturday hosting artists like Saka, VEIL, Chef Boyarbeatz, and the much-anticipated set from Visages. We ended Saturday night at the Shades set at this stage, which provided some of the best music I heard all weekend.
The Zombieland stage delivered massive stage production, with pyrotechnics to match the wall-to-wall, booming bass.
More prominent names on the lineup brought out tons of fans to see notable sets from Funtcase, Kill The Noise, and two sets from Excision, including a special Detox set. On Saturday, over half the venue seemed to be decked out in Sullivan King merch, and he drew one of the biggest crowds to the Zombieland stage all weekend. The visuals on this stage were creative and mesmerizing, and the sound production stayed contained within the surrounding areas. Other artists, like Jessica Auddifred, HVDES, Shanghai Doom, and Liquid Stranger, also dominated this stage over the weekend.
Across the other side of the venue was the Apocalypse stage, which offered sets by Mythym, Peekaboo, Of The Trees, Virtual Riot, and Rusko. This stage was closer to the water, so the breeze was crucial for those needing a solid cool-down. This stage’s VIP area was the coolest in the venue, with a grassy lawn to sit on and a full-on kandi-making bar with perfect views of the performers.
The party didn’t stop at the last act. The actual Queen Mary ship provided the late-night afterparties with exclusive sets.
If you didn’t want the night to end at midnight, official Apocalypse afterparties were held upon the actual Queen Mary battleship that was docked right by the stages. These sold out fairly quickly, which isn’t surprising since they included a special drum and bass set from Ivy Lab, a deep dub Infekt set, extra sets from Jessica Audiffred, Chee, Sumthin Sumthin, and more.
These afterparties were complimentary for those who chose to stay in one of the hotel rooms on the ship. Despite the novel concept of partying in a battleship, the confines of the stages had an odd layout, requiring attendees to walk up and down extensive flights of stairs to travel between each one. It was also incredibly hot, with the humidity bouncing off the walls from how confined the rooms became due to the number of attendees.
This year’s Apocalypse Zombieland blew expectations out of the water, with rave reviews from every raver begging for it to return next year.
Although there were a couple of small bumps in the road, Apocalypse Zombieland was one of the most well-organized raves I have attended in a long time. The music curation was top-notch, the experience was memorable, and most attendees had infectiously high spirits and a wondrous attitude throughout the weekend.
I don’t expect anything less than efficient logistics and curation from Insomniac, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this event will grow. I found it to be an interesting mix of attendees, with both sides of bass music represented and the ever-growing presence of drum and bass bringing in all the junglist pros to the venue.
With some finer points being tweaked in the future, I can see Apocalypse Zombieland being a destination festival for bassheads. Drum and bass and deep dubstep, alongside more US-popular genres like dubstep and riddim, was met with praise from the crowd. It made for more variety, as opposed to more genre-specific events like Bass Canyon or Project Z. Despite the venue’s travel issues, the overall experience guided by the waterfront ambiance complemented the music well. We predict this event will continue to invade the electronic music community for the foreseeable future.