Beyond Wonderland: An endless sea of EDM

About 78,000 EDM fans flocked to San Bernardino this weekend to attend Beyond Wonderland: The Endless Sea, an electronic music festival that has gained immense popularity similar to that of Electric Daisy Carnival, Countdown and Nocturnal Wonderland. Hosted by Insomniac Events, the two-day festival returned to its original home at the NOS Events Center. It also featured a variety of DJs and subgenres, ranging from deep and tropical house to dubstep and hardstyle.

Throughout the venue, eclectic art installations, colorful lights and whimsical set-ups brought the festival to life. A variety of decorations such as starfish lanterns, seahorse statues and a 20-feet wide steel squid structure were sprawled throughout the venue and the lagoon at the front entrance.  During both days, ravers enjoyed their time at Beyond Wonderland, exchanging kandi bracelets, carrying flags and decorated totems and dancing the night away even outside of the six stages scattered across the venue.

Photo courtesy of Jake West/Insomniac Events

The energy during both days was electric — every stage was filled with eager fans, ready to dance and headbang to some of the top DJs in the electronic music industry. To start off day one, DJs such as Martin Solveig, Audien and Eptic B2B Must Die! performed in the early evening. Undoubtedly, the most popular stages of the night were Queen’s Domain and Outer Realm. Several DJs performed inside The Aquarium, a stage specializing in house music.

Later in the evening, Ekali and Illenium took on Outer Realm, playing remixes of popular songs such as “Work,” “Zoo” and “Shelter,” and of music from other DJs such as TroyBoi. Headbanging was a popular form of dance during these two sets, while mosh pits developed in various cyphers throughout the crowd. Hardwell and GTA’s performance overfilled the Queen’s Domain, leading to huge crowds flowing out of the tent.

Meanwhile, up and coming DJs such as JSTJR, Aazar and Gladiator drew wandering ravers to a relatively small stage called Upside-Down House, a unique set-up resembling an old, whimsical house with neon UV lights reflected on the structure. Sander van Doorn, Alison Wonderland, Shiba San, Astrix and Dillon Nathaniel ended the night with electrifying performances.

While Alison Wonderland, one of the top female DJs in the world, attracted the most fans with her trip hop and trap style, Sander van Doorn was unable to draw in a crowd, barely filling up half of the Queen’s Domain, the main stage of the event.

On day two, the number of attendees doubled as foot traffic increased and traffic lanes surrounding the venue shut down. The second and final day showed a promising line-up of performers, such Party Favor, Herobust, Tommy Trash, NGHTMRE, Yellow Claw, Bro Safari, Paul van Dyk, Snails and Diplo.

Though the lines and stages throughout the venue were overflowing, attendees still found a way to have a good time. Arguably, the most popular performances came from NGHTMRE, Snails, Herobust, Yellow Claw and Diplo. Ravers kept the energy of the festival up, dancing to all different styles of electronic music from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. nonstop, as performers quickly transitioned in between every set and started at the right time.

NGHTMRE, Snails, Herobust and Yellow Claw energized crowds with their songs and remixes of songs from dubstep and hardstyle artists such as Skrillex. Attendees enjoyed themselves by dancing hard whenever the bass dropped.

Though Beyond Wonderland was a unique experience for many, there were several recurrences that left some attendees disappointed. DJs throughout day two continued the same trends, overplaying remixes and renditions of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” and Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.”

In addition, at almost every performance, ravers heard the same phrases being repeated. The first line was “Stop acting like a b-tch, get your hands up!” from Zomboy’s “Like a B-tch”; the second was “If you ain’t takin’ shots get the f-ck out the club” from LMFAO’s “Shots.” In an attempt to pump up crowds, the DJs repeated and used the same lines, hoping that ravers would follow suit and continue dancing. These patterns among performers throughout the night lacked the originality and distinctive styles that many attendees were looking for when anticipating their favorite DJs’ performances.

During both nights, Insomniac Events tried to hype up the festival’s theme “The Endless Sea” by having dancers and stunters carry large props, such as neon jellyfish and a giant octopus, in several performances. Though these props were visually appealing, attendees in the back did not enjoy being pushed and having their view of the stage obstructed.

Despite the repetitive musical style and heavy traffic flow that occurred on day two, Beyond Wonderland added to Insomniac Events’ credibility as a powerhouse for EDM festivals. Ravers thoroughly enjoyed their experience with every performance, as visuals and colorful lighting amplified the music at all stages. This year’s Beyond Wonderland continued to bring in new audiences and allowed them to experience the unique facets of rave culture and “PLUR.”