Nocturnal Wonderland: A Festival Reborn
Nocturnal Wonderland made an unexpected, but very calculated change this year by reestablishing itself, stepping backward to its roots, offering a more intimate festival with a hyper-focus on the guest experience. Holding the title of North America’s longest-running EDM festival, Nocturnal has an unspoken obligation to maintain its uniqueness in the growingly oversaturated music festival market. Luckily for EDM fans, Insomniac the brawn, and brain behind the festival, pulled it off in excellent fashion.
Instead of trying to outdo the mega-festivals that dominate the summer, the Insomniac team made a genius decision making Nocturnal Wonderland what it originally was, a wildly popular underground rave that brought the die-hard fans together to hear EDMs budding new artists in an all-inclusive, easy access setting.
With a tagline “The Biggest Headliner Is You”, Insomniac embodied it with its fully immersive experience at Nocturnal Wonderland better than any of their other events. This year the two-day festival hosted 45,000 attendees to an unforgettably surreal world full of interactive art installations, amazingly costumed characters, four uniquely designed stages, and most importantly a showcase of the best budding and internationally renowned artists. To say that Insomniac‘s decision to bring the festival back to its roots was a success would be a huge understatement. This years festival was more than the right decision it was a defining moment in its illustrious legacy.
Highlights included the Friday night blowout set from Dillon Francis with a guest appearance from DJ Snake that lasted for nearly the entire main stage (Wolves Den) set… Yes, Day One fans were blessed with a surprise Dillon Francis b2b DJ Snake set to close out the night.
Saturday night definitely had its perks as well. Ookay debuted his brand new live set, marking a massive evolution in his career, from producer/DJ to a bona fide musician. The jaw-dropping live performance set the bar for the rest of his career and inadvertently the rest of the night. Fortunately for main stage fans, Valentino Khan, Zomboy, and Excision followed Ookay, bringing one of the heaviest main stage lineups Insomniac has held ever. It was dubstep trap heaven and to say the least things got extremely wobbly.
Now, two personal picks from the lineup that caught my eye personally and delivered undeniably memorable sets for the fans. First is Pluto, the 17 year East Coast producer prodigy who brought the crowd together at the Labyrinth Stage for his first West Coast performance. This kid is someone you definitely don’t want to miss. Catch him now before he is booked the main stage at every festival! My second pick? Sacha Robotti, the tech house veteran from Belgium who has had years of training in the worlds house music capital, Berlin, Germany. He came out a full force under the Sunken Garden’s epic tower, seamlessly throwing down track after track to a packed crowd of devout fans. As the sun dropped behind the mountains mid-set bringing on the darkness Sacha the sloth expertly raised the energy levels and brought the crowd into full party mode. If by some wild chance you haven’t heard of him before, go check out his new massive EP release with Desert Hearts leader Mikey Lion called Ol’ Dirty Hearts. Do it.
Long story short, short story long, if you crave that intimate rave setting that the EDM culture was founded on. The kind of atmosphere where you can be exactly who you are in the weirdest way without a second of judgment. The sort of show where you can walk from stage to stage in less than 5 minutes and get a decent spot without missing more than one song. A place with a euphoric sense of wonderment with unimaginably creative art and characters fully immersing themselves into a theme of endless imagination. Then, my friends, this is your nostalgic throwback to the golden age of festivals, before they were overcrowded and overly hyped. Nocturnal Wonderland is a vastly unique festival that started the culture 22 years ago and is still progressively changing it today.
Photo Credit: (In order of appearance on page)
Ivan Meness, Jake West, Da Black Swan, Kristina Bakrevski (all for Insomniac)
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