That Wasn’t Another California Earthquake, Just Insomniac’s Beyond Wonderland

Marshmello at Queen's Domain; Photo by aLIVE Coverage
Marshmello at Queen’s Domain; Photo by aLIVE Coverage

Insomniac Events has been around since 1993 and was founded by Pasquale Rotella. Since then, it has blossomed into an incredible dance music events juggernaut. Providing an immersive festival experience paired with an awesome line-up that always has a variety of genres, it’s very clear that Pasquale and Insomniac have found the formula for success.

Beyond Wonderland 2016 in Southern California lived up to the Insomniac name and brought a flawless array of production and artists during the two-day event.

The Beyond Wonderland series of events started in 2010 and in San Bernardino, CA. Due to it’s popular success, it has since expanded to now include events in Northern California as well. The entire theme of Beyond Wonderland ties in closely with the famous Alice in Wonderland fictional series and features a world of its own.

This year the two day event took place on March 18 and 19th from 4PM – 2AM at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, CA and featured three stages, camping, and plenty of other activities such as a Silent Disco.

Day One – Friday, March 18

After fighting a slew of Los Angeles traffic, we finally arrived at the venue 7:30PM. Traffic getting into the San Manuel Amphitheater was increasingly heavy, the closer we got to the venue. We were absolutely awe struck when we entered the festival. The production was fantastic from the sound systems on each stage to the visuals – there was nothing faulty we could pick out. We walked around the grounds a little and made ourselves more familiar with where everything was.

The Chesire Woods stage was the smallest stage and was adjacent to Queen’s Domain, main stage. On the other side of the grounds was Outer Realm, the second largest stage. In the middle of everything were food and merchandise booths as well as the Boombox Art Car, a sort of portable stage.

Chris Lake at Queen's Domain; Photo by aLIVE Coverage
Chris Lake at Queen’s Domain; Photo by aLIVE Coverage

We were able to catch Chris Lake at Queen’s Domain as our first act and he did a superb job of mixing in his future/deep/techno sound while providing the crowd with tons of energy. Aside from his performance, Queen’s Domain was a sight to see. The stage was formed in a pyramid, with plenty of LCD screens for visuals. Along with that there were pyro and CO2 features, as well as 5-6 jets of water that occasionally rose up and down.

Marshmello was up next on main stage and was definetely a performer that you could visibly see holds a LARGE fanbase. From the Marshmello heads to the posters, when he took the stage, he commanded everyone’s attention. His bouncy crowd-pleasing songs along with his customized visuals presented a thoroughly enjoyable set from start to finish.

Checking out Outer Realm was next on our agenda. For Friday, the stage was taken over by Dreamstate and was full of trance music. Like Queen’s Domain, the production on this stage was top-notch and the stage was set inwards a little, replicating a box. Another cool feature about Outer Realm was the fact that it was set at the bottom of the hill, which made viewing easy and convenient.

Outer Realm's "Dreamstate"; Photo by aLIVE Coverage
Outer Realm’s “Dreamstate”; Photo by aLIVE Coverage

Pure NRG (Giuseppe Ottaviani & Solarstone) were currently on the decks and brought an ambient and relaxed environment with them.

We were able to catch the last half of Galantis‘ set back at Queen’s Domain. Getting a chance to see there huge hits such as “Runaway” and “Gold Dust” performed live was great and you could tell they were having a fantastic time up on stage.

After Galantis, there was a short intermission in which a plethora of fireworks, pyro, and visuals went off which completely added more awe to the festival experience thus far.

Carnage was the next to hit the stage and brought an entirely different type of energy. His set was filled with harder sounds such as dubstep, hard trap, hard style, trap and more. Along with us, the crowd was really getting down and it was a nice change of pace overall.

Closing out Queen’s Domain was Dada Life. We only stayed for a small portion of their set as we wanted to beat traffic on the way out, but from what we saw they were doing a spectacular job of ending the unreal first day.

Day Two – Saturday, March 19th

We got to the venue bright and early on Saturday, attempting to maximize our last day. Today the Outer Realm stage was taken over by Bassrush and was chalk full of bass-heavy guys.

LUMBERJVCK was the first act we saw on Outer Realm right at 4pm. Initially the crowd was nonexistent, however, within thirty minutes the young DJ/producer had a sizable amount of people. His set was chaotic in the best way possible. Sticking to his overall brand image and sound, he played primarily dubstep, fitting in his increasingly popular remix of Getter’s “Suh Dude.”

We had a short break in set times so we simply meandered around the festival grounds catching little bits of artists here and there and taking in the overall vibe that Insomniac cultivated so well.

Slander at Queen's Domain; Photo by aLIVE Coverage
Slander at Queen’s Domain; Photo by aLIVE Coverage

Slander was the next act we caught on Queen’s Domain. Their entire set exceeded all expectations we had for them. Playing popular crowd pleasers like Flosstradamus’ “Prison Riot” as well as their own songs such as their remix of “We Like to Party,” they absolutely crushed main stage in the best fashion.

Back to Outer Realm we ventured to see the rising Trap producer, TroyBoi. The size of the crowd was really amazing to see and TroyBoi himself delivered a great set as well. His music as well as his enthusiasm for performing was unparalleled by anyone so far. Bro Safari took the stage following him and really turned it up a few notches. His impeccable mixing ability along with his resident MC providing crowd hype made his entire set a blast!

Outer Realm by Bassrush; Photo by Jake West
Outer Realm by Bassrush; Photo by Jake West

NGHTMRE, a late addition to the festival, was next. He took the place of Doctor P, who had to cancel last minute. NGHTMRE’s set was yet another unbelievable set. His set consistent of songs off his new EP, older remixes he has done, as well as current bass tunes.

By this time, the crowd at the Outer Realm was massively packed and expanded all the way up the hill. Ghastly had the challenge of making this crowd dance and he surely did just that. Throughout his set were the likes of house, dubstep, and some hip-hop. Overall, he did a tremendous job of being the second to last act of the night on this stage.

We then made a quick sprint to main stage to catch the end of Yellow Claw and were pleased with our decision. Their unique sound and incredible fanbase were prevalent through their set and it was crystal clear that these guys knew how to command an audience.

And with that ended our stay at Beyond Wonderland.

Queen's Domain; Photo by The Holy Mountain
Queen’s Domain; Photo by The Holy Mountain

Beyond Wonderland was a wild and unbelievable experience from beginning to end.

There was nothing we could singularly pick out that we thought needed improving. Insomniac Events really gave attendees everything they could ever want in a festival and the overall quality of things was fantastic. We would absolutely recommend Beyond Wonderland and other Insomniac Events to be on your festival list!

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