Nocturnal Wonderland: A Weekend in Review

Insomniac’s 25th edition of Nocturnal Wonderland, was a vast 4-stage EDM world with something for everyone. Nocturnal has returned once again to the gorgeous Glen Helen Regional Park. This is a document to this experience.

Camping & Preparty

The camping experience at this year’s Nocturnal was by far one of the more fun camping festivals. After settling in, we set up our tent and got suited up for the pre-party, which featured heated sets by DackJaniels and ZHU. Our campsite was conveniently located right by the pre/day party area and bathrooms. As we partied the first night at camp away, my girlfriend and I ran into some old friends from a few years back and danced the night away.

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The next morning, we got acquainted with our campsite neighbors from Pasadena. This group of four were some of the most hospitable people I have ever met in a camping festival. We shared food and took to the cool shade of their canopy this weekend. The other neighbors were from the area, this was a group of two men, one of which, was their first festival, who I gave one of my flower cuffs to.

Festival Day One & Bassrush Takover

The Majority of the first day and night was spent at the Labyrinth stage, where a Bassrush takeover was underway.

We started the journey with JEANIE‘s set. Her set was one of the best sets to kick off the festivities. She threw down some explosive flips, remixed, and some unexpected bangers like a dubstep remix of Brittany Spears’ Toxic. The vibes were on point.

Following JEANIE was a set by Pixel Terror. This dubstep duo opened up their set with an audio skit full of punchlines and atmosphere, which quickly lays into a high energy set. As dusk approached, the bass music tock a shift to the darker, more experimental side.

Cred. Insomniac

Buku made it clear that we are in for a real greasy treat. Dropping nothing but the grooviest, slimiest bass tracks this weekend. As Buku set the stage, Champagne Drip was quick on his tail. Not messing around, Drip had the bass drops and guttural grooves, dropping his tracks ‘Hot Chicken’ and ’Oni’ with special twists.

To follow, Dion Timmer gave the crowd a neon tinged experience that left us all in audio and visual awe. Who could possibly follow except for none other than LA’s very own 12th Planet. This DJ was not messing around, slamming down head busting drops relentlessly, keeping the mosh going his whole set.

From here, we took a break from the Labyrinth with mainstage, The Wolves’ Den. Here, we caught the beginning of NGHTMRE‘s set, getting caught in the feels and vibes of his sets is something you’d just have to experience. Shifting gears, we moved back to the Labyrinth for Modestep b2b Downlink (DNB Set) where we heard some of the most gritty drum and bass/dubstep hybrid tracks we have ever heard. We decided to close out night one with the legendary deadmau5, who played the vibes back to back.

Labyrinth Stage Cred. Insomniac

Back at the camp site, we reunited with our neighbors and shared some of our ramen to warm up on this cold night. Our stove ran out of butane and they were more than willing to allow us to share their gas. We spent the rest of the night vibing out to chill house and slow bass as we chatted about our first night.

Festival Day 2

At the start of Day 2, our camp neighbors cooked up some bacon, potatoes, and eggs for us all, and it was a much needed start to the day. As lunch approached, we took to the food vendors and got some tacos. Back to the campsite, we resumed the vibes under the comfort of shade and wind couches. I was chosen for aux where I played some heavy experimental dubstep (which I am very fond of) as we learned more about each other. Our neighbors was a pair of couples and they were very kind.

As the final night of the festival approaches, we decided to all go in together. Night 2 was full of even more vibes. As we took the trek into the festival grounds, I traded kandi with a few people. We faced a hiccup upon entering as one of the group’s Covid clearance wristband was lost. She had to go all the way back to camping check in to get a new one as we waited by the entrance map in the festival. We all reunited and met another one of their crew who was not camping. He was a very friendly individual with a light up Slander totem. 

Sunken Garden Stage Cred. Insomniac

The second night of the festival began, for us, with Nitti Gritti‘s set, and this man never dissapoints. Every drop is an unexpected crowd pleaser, quickly flipping from dubstep anthems like Throwin’ Elbows into some hardstyle, Nitti Gritti always keeps you on your toes and is always a pleasure to see him on a line up. The most notable sets this night came from Wooli and Kill The Noise. Woolie’s set has to be one of my favorite sets.

I met so many people this set, including a first time raver all the way from Honduras, whom I gave a kandi cuff to, granting him his first kandi. I also met people from my home town, wearing a panda onesie, which was an unexpected positive event. We traded kandi and he gave me one with a mini kaleidoscope, this is one of my favorites so far. Night two, as much fun as it was, ended rough as my girlfriend’s phone was stolen and we spent the remaining hour searching for it. Despite this, Night 2 was very fun and engaging. 

Overall Scores

Vibes: 9/10 This Nocturnal was one of the best camping experiences overall as I have made a good amount of friends. In the festival, I befriended a wide, colorful cast of diverse people. 

Lineup 8/10 The lineup was near perfect! I loved all the bass acts, I only wish they had more headlining dubstep acts like Rusko, Borgore, or more b2b sets, but I cant be too picky. Wooli and the DNB back to back truly made my weekend. 

Staff 8/10 Although not too knowledgeable about info to help us out with camping and media credentials, they were all fully willing to help us figure things out the whole way through, even with a happy demeanor.

Overall 8.5/10

This year’s Nocturnal Wonderland was a very big success, despite the pitfalls, which could be generalized as due to current global events. The whole weekend was very much enjoyable and did not let the cons overshadow the pros. I cannot recommend Nocturnal Wonderland enough for anyone considering going to one. 

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