On March 20th and 21st, fans gathered at the San Manuel Amphitheater for the fifth installment of Southern California’s Beyond Wonderland. With an incredible lineup and Insomniac’s reputation for stellar production, you could feel the excited energy as fans spilled through the gates and into the venue.
What sets Insomniac Events apart from other event companies is its devotion to production and creating an overall sensational experience for attendees. In my experience attending various Insomniac events, Beyond Wonderland is one of the most magical, as the festival centers around an Alice in Wonderland theme. The massive venue houses four different stages: Queen’s Domain (mainstage), Mad Hatter’s Castle, Cheshire Woods, and a recent addition, The Funk House. Brilliant large-scale art installments are featured all over the venue and elaborately-dressed performers add to the fantastical experience. Each stage features cutting-edge technology with intricate stage design, incredible lights, and hypnotizing lasers. Insomniac definitely did an amazing job of creating an amazing visual experience for attendees.
As far as music is concerned, Insomniac definitely delivered an awesome lineup. While I was unable to check out every single artist, I definitely found a few stand-outs throughout the weekend.
One of my favorite sets over the two days was LOOKAS. I was definitely familiar with Lookas prior to the show and knew he was an artist I wanted to check out, but had no idea he would be one of my favorite performances of the weekend. He performed Saturday at Mad Hatter’s Castle after Dotcom and before Delta Heavy. Lookas is typically known for his grimey trap sound, which he definitely provided, but he threw in some electro house tracks which kept the crowd jumping. The energetic set incorporated the perfect amount of filthy drops, while still delivering an upbeat vibe. It was total madness and the crowd ate it right up.
Showtek was definitely another one of my favorites throughout the weekend. I might be biased because I’m a huge fan, but their set was honestly the best out of the seven times I’ve seen them. The duo usually teeters between electro house and progressive house when they perform, but this particular set was mainly electro house bangers. They dropped fan favorites like “Booyah,” “Get Loose,” and “Cannonball,” as well as their newer hits. SHOWTEK has an incredible stage performance and they kept the crowd on their feet from beginning to end.
Another favorite of mine was progressive trance powerhouse, ARTY. His set fused progressive house with uplifting trance, creating such a fun atmosphere for attendees. The crowd was all smiles throughout his performance and went totally crazy when we dropped “All Night” and his remix of OneRepublic’s “I Lived.” You could feel the intense energy during his remix of PORTER ROBINSON’s “Lionhearted” - definitely a magical moment in my opinion. Arty incorporated a few different AUDIEN tracks into his set which flowed perfectly with his uplifting vibe. It was an amazing performance that I’ll never forget.
My fourth and final favorite of the weekend was, of course, DILLON FRANCIS. I’m waiting for the day when he isn’t a favorite, but he never ceases to amaze me. The king of moombahton has proven this year that he can successfully produce basically any genre he wants, and his set incorporated all of his different styles. Despite all the newer fans hopping on the Dillon bandwagon, Dillon always drops all of his older hits like “IDGAFOS,” “Messages,” and “I’m the One.” The crowd went absolutely crazy when he dropped his recent hits “I Can’t Take It” and “Not Butter.” His set was absolutely insane and attendees totally loved it.
Knife Party is another artist worth noting. As a huge KNIFE PARTY fan, I was unbelievably excited for their performance. Needless to say, it was a bit of a letdown. I couldn’t wait to get down to a grimey electro set but they didn’t deliver it. Knife Party closed out the main stage on Saturday night, which may have contributed to their pretty mellow set. Everyone around me was chattering anxiously, waiting for the duo to start getting aggressive. They opened up with “Rage Valley,” which left the crowd a little disappointed when the majority of set consisted of house tracks and even some deep house. It was definitely a solid set, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of Knife Party fans were expecting something a lot gnarlier. Finally they picked it up toward the end of their set, dropping “Internet Friends,” “LRAD,” and then closing with “Bonfire.” They definitely ended on an amazing note, but it took a little while for the ball to get rolling, in my personal opinion.
Another act worth noting is GTA, who closed out the main stage Friday night. The duo is known for their ability to mesh a wide variety of genres, and they certainly did this throughout their set. From trap to electro house, and even some salsa elements, GTA delivered an extremely versatile set which was really cool to watch. They dropped various tracks from their new EP, ‘Death to Genres Vol. I’, like “Mic Check” with TJR and “What We Tell Dem” with Wiwek, as well as their older classics like “Yolohton” and “The Crowd.” GTA has an awesome energy when they perform, and the crowd definitely reflected that energy right back. I was fortunate enough to interview GTA before their performance, keep an eye out for the interview next week.
Overall, Beyond Wonderland SoCal was an incredible festival. With such amazing music provided, as well as Insomniac’s insane production, the two-day event was an unforgettable one. If you haven’t been to Beyond yet, I definitely recommend checking it out.
For more from Insomniac, check out their website.